Expats buying now with a long-term view to moving back to London.


Many of my clients are ex-pat British nationals that have plans to move back to the UK in 3-5 years’ time.  These clients are looking for homes that can initially double up as rental investments. 

Becoming an “ex-pat” is an exciting time. You have left the comforts of society you know for the unknown and although most move to work within the same industry, business and home life will be a little different for sure. A standard profile would be someone with a minimum of five years of experience in an industry they have become successful in wIth still a level of enthusiasm to push their career forward.  

However, for many, there comes a time that home begins to call and this year I have had many enquiries from ex-pat couples that are planning their return in the next three to five years. 

Hedging on London Property

One such transaction was from a Singapore-based British couple   They had been watching the market price rise in London and wanted to lock in “2021’s” price before they were priced out of the market.   They have no immediate plans to move back right now but wanted me to target a house in the “Counties Estate” in Wanstead E11, London where they would in the future bring up their family.   

Nobody knows where prices will go but with record levels of inflation in the UK in recent times, it’s logical to expect further price increases in property.     

Unfortunately for them, what they wanted to buy was high in demand with little coming to the market (a 3-4 bedroom house with good outside space).  Add to this that they wanted an Edwardian-style house, their search constituted to only a few sections along four residential streets, so we were really up against it! 

 ONE in four will offer after an open day.

A challenge it proved to be, as just one house came to the open market that ticked all their needs.    

I attended the open day along with twenty other potential purchasers and prepared for a “best bidding” scenario the following week. In my experience, about a quarter of people viewing will offer, so in my head we were up against a maximum of four/five bidders.  Of course, my clients had an advantage being chain-free with a mortgage broker and solicitor at the ready.    

For bidding scenarios, it is imperative to be prepared and demonstrate this to the agent. They can only sell to one party and you have to do everything you can to proceed that you are the buyer to back. The last thing an agent wants is a sale falling through.   


After two rounds of bidding, we were delighted to be the preferred bidder and after six weeks of conveyancing, we exchanged on this lovely Edwardian house in The Counties Estate.  The house is now let and managed via our sister company who let & manage property all over London. 

Property tips for ex-pats looking to move back to the UK

  • When thinking to purchase property for a future home, although a high yield may not be on the top of your list, you still need to follow the fundamental rental investment principles to secure a tenant. These include the property being close to amenities, transport links, good schools in the area)
  • Do all you can to prepare, and have your solicitor and mortgage broker available. If you need recommendations let me know as I am very well networked in this industry!
  • When working out your margins don’t forget buying taxes – if you buy a home that you won’t live in for a while, it’s considered a second home and you will pay a 3% stamp duty surcharge. Ex-pats you also pay a 2% non-resident surcharge. (I mentioned this tip in the Sunday Times)
  • Consider adding floorspace by building a loft or floor extension in order to increase the value of your investment and make a profit (This tip was also part of my Sunday Times contribution)

Get in touch if you are planning a move back to London or the Home Counties in the months or years to come.

Now is the time to buy Central London apartments

The general trend in the last two years has been “the exodus of urban areas to more rural settings” and nowhere has this been seen more than in London.   Transaction levels in central boroughs have been down and it is not until you reach the outer suburbs where you can find houses with large gardens that you see a higher level of transactions.  In turn, those who are selling in the suburbs are also then moving out to more rural or coastal areas.

With recent COVID-19 travel restrictions for international travel and the fact that property in Central London consists mainly of apartments, many without outside space, you can see why Central London has had less buyer demand.

In my view, this has created value and therefore a great buying opportunity and the proof is there to be seen.  One of my best purchases this year was in St. John’s Wood NW8 for an overseas European client.

St Johns Wood – two-bedroom for £675,000 with a beautiful communal garden – identical units listed on the market for £850,000

This client was not able to physically be in London and “their viewing” was undertaken through WhatsApp video.  It was a remarkably quick transaction and they were able to purchase the property at £175,000 less than similar properties in the same building. It’s now rented out on their behalf via our sister company Rash & Rash.

The properties that I normally source and encourage my clients to purchase for investment are existing period properties like the St John’s Wood example described above, which was built ca 1920s. I don’t recommend new builds or buying off-plan (properties that are yet to be constructed).  Think new car, and the adage of it losing value as soon as you leave the showroom. I just find there is more value in an old existing property.

My prediction for 2022

I feel that apartments will see a renaissance and increase in activity in 2022. Yes, people have been working from home but many are now returning to the office, be it for part of the week or back full time. Furthermore, some may be finding their new commute to be too long which could all potentially lead to an increase in demand for the London pied-à-terre.

Central London property trend – key factors

  1. There is definite confidence in the housing market.
  2. Private outside spaces like balconies and terraces will make a property more desireable
  3. Older properties are less generic and have more character and this helps with future resale potential
  4. International travel is again open and those investors who still want to physically make a viewing can now do so. 
  5. For those who can’t make it to viewings, it’s possible to do much of the search and viewing remotely, but be sure you use a property finder like me who’s on your side rather than the side of the estate agents.
  6. Houses have for sure been en vogue and have increased in price to an extent that apartments are becoming the cheaper option per square foot.
  7. Assets such as property tend to do better in periods of high inflation.
  8. Interest rates are likely to increase though because they are still at historic lows, I doubt initial rises will taper the market. For more on this, here’s an article I am featured in in the Evening Standard.  

Get in touch if you would like to discuss the London market and are thinking to purchase in the near future. 

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