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The Help to Buy Scheme

Taking the first step on the London property ladder

Buying your first home in London is often believed to be beyond the reach of many young professionals – and it certainly isn’t easy. But softening house prices, record low mortgage interest rates, discounts from developers and the London Help to Buy scheme – mean that this could be the best opportunity many professionals will have to make their first move onto the property ladder.

We are working with an increasing numbers of first-time buyers keen to take advantage of the current situation, assisting them throughout the homebuying process, from helping them find the right type of property within their budget to navigating the Help to Buy scheme and the mortgage application process.

What is The Help to Buy Scheme?

The Government’s Help to Buy Scheme is aimed at first-time buyers and existing homeowners who wish to buy a new-build property, providing part of the equity needed in the form of a loan which means the buyer needs to borrow less from a mortgage company and needs a smaller deposit.

The Government will lend you up to 20% of the cost of a new- build home – or up to 40% for homes in Greater London because London properties are more expensive than in the rest of the country. You must put down a 5% deposit on a new-build property valued at up to £600,000.

You must not own any other property when you buy the new property. And you must not sub-let the property or enter a part-exchange deal with your old home.

For more information, go to www.helptobuylondon.co.uk

What should first-time buyers be aware of?And how can Benham & Reeves help?

Getting the best deals

Trawling through websites to uncover the most cost-effective options for buying your home can be daunting. For example, how do you know if you are being offered a competitive interest rate? What fees should you be paying?

You also need to accurately work out your budget – based on your salary, your deposit and any additional loan from the Help to Buy scheme.

If you’re spending up to £600,000 on a property, you want to make the right decisions – so expert advice is essential. We can work with you to make sure your paperwork is in order and you are getting the best deals.

Finding the right property

Next, the property itself. Where would you like to live – in which area and which Zone? How far from public transport do you need to be? What type of amenities would you like nearby?

Which new build developments are located in this area? Ideally, what type of facilities should they have – private parking, a gym, a concierge? What is the annual service charge? What is important to you?

We can provide expert knowledge when it comes to the property search, advising on suitable areas and developments within your budget – and your ideal commuting distance.

We work extensively with many Tier 1 developers so we can also negotiate on your behalf and help you take advantage of the many discounts currently on offer.

And we have a ‘little black book’ of trusted mortgage companies and solicitors who you may wish to work with to take care of the financial and legal side of matters.

Furnishing your new home

Finally, if you want your new hometo look its best, our professional furnishing company can supply stylish but economically priced furnishing packs to suit any budget and size of property. It’s a simple and surprisingly cost-effective way to furnish a new property from scratch.

Taking the first step

If you are considering buying your first home and would like someone you can trust to help you throughout every step of the process, then please get in touch with our sales team on 020 3280 6400 or email us. They can guide you throughout all the aspects of this important stage of your life and take the stress and worry out of this major financial investment.

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Hong Kongers will always consider London as a key investment

As real estate in the UK begins its recovery after subsequent lockdowns, there is more positivity around and confidence is returning to the market. Since the beginning of March, shortly after the UK Government announced a detailed roadmap for getting back to normal, our Hong Kong office saw a surge of interest, with London property investment the primary focus. When I joined Benham and Reeves Hong Kong office earlier in 2021, following the positive roll-out of vaccines in the UK, investors could see a clear way forward. And at the beginning of March, we started to see a real uptake in property sales which was a clear demonstration of the confidence that international buyers have in the wider UK economy. London property, in particular, remains at the top of the list (as ever), and we’ve also seen a surge of enquiries because of the BNO Visa scheme which provides a route to British Citizenship. Understanding what motivates Hong Kong investors is key I started my career in international residential property back in 2008 when the world was facing the global financial crisis. At that time, I had the advantage of working under the mentorship of a few London property experts whose vast experience and connections were combined with the right property propositions, made available to Asian investors, and I gained a lot of knowledge of what makes a good investment. My policy has always been to provide a customised, one-stop service to investors, from providing research and background advice on property purchase, through to leasing and management services and resale when the right opportunity arises. I have a strong base of clients who are recurring investors in the London market as they have experienced good capital appreciation and rental returns which London historically offers. I believe my experience is especially beneficial for new buyers, those looking for an overseas investment, investing in the UK market for the first time. With my property expertise, I have always ‘walked the talk’ and was a pioneer investor in the North- London regeneration project at Woodberry Down where I have seen capital values increased a staggering 96% since first launch in 2012, so I think I bought very well. Looking back, if I had that time again, I would also have bought a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment in Berkeley London’s Dickens Yard development in Ealing which was also recommended to me back in 2012 – the year when London hosted the Olympics - but Ealing was not top of my radar at that time. The area has also seen huge growth, almost doubling its value too and provides a good rental income with its continued success. Now there is Filmworks and other schemes coming to the area and the location has been totally transformed.

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Why Hong Kongers favour London as an investment Currently, there are two groups of Hong Kong buyers; those who buy mainly for investment, these are seasoned investors who know London well: London has proved that it is an extremely resilient City, an international hub for business with a prosperous jobs market and these are rudiments that underpin confidence. And there are individuals who are buying for own use as they consider migration options to the UK on the BNO Visa. There has always been an affinity in investing in London due to the long colonial history but especially so with the new BNO system which allows BNO holders and their immediate family members to live and work for an extended period of time, and the possibility of applying for the British citizenship. Zone 1 prime central London verses outer prime While Zone 1 central London due to its established market, continues to be an aspirational asset for many investors and largely preferred by established investors hunting for good deals, we are seeing more and more Hong Kong investors looking for increased value further afield. They are eyeing regeneration areas in the outer Zones 3-4 which offers good value and solid returns of beyond 4%. Families looking to relocate to London are also on the increase with high importance on a friendly neighbourhood with quality amenities and schools for their children. Family friendly areas outside of Zone 1 such as Barnet, Harrow and Greenwich are top choices for current investments. The Brexit effect on the buying habits of Hong Kong investors Now we have the conclusion of Brexit, Hong Kong investors are even stronger in their commitment to the London property market. The UK Government’s extension of the Stamp Duty tax has also provided more certainty and confidence towards the resilience of the London market. On top of this, the recent BNO visa policy has also given more Hong Kong BNO holders a reason to purchase homes in the UK. Looking to the future Here at Benham and Reeves, we act as a bespoke consultancy to Hong Kong investors. We work directly with select UK developers offering hand-picked projects that offer high quality and solid returns for all our buyers. Due to our long years of establishment, we have a good landlord base with access to of some of the best gems of the London secondary property market. 2020 saw us celebrate 25 years’ operating in Hong Kong and our ‘edge’ is not just providing buying and selling services to Hong Kong buyers, but also support on the rental, furnishing and tax filing services which our clients have come to greatly value. I think the pandemic has really refocused property investors and they are now reviewing their portfolios to ensure they have diversified sources of income. The UK continues to present attractive returns and increased growth potential. If anyone reading this would like to get in touch, our Hong Kong team can introduce a number of opportunities for new and second-hand properties.

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