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USA citizen owning a house/flat in London, England

USA citizen owning a house/flat in London, England

Old Jul 28th, 2012, 09:39 PM
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USA citizen owning a house/flat in London, England

Hi there.

I am a U.S. citizen who is retired and planning on buying a holiday house/flat somewhere in England. I would be going to England on a tourist visa.

My original plan was to buy a house in Liverpool. After all of the comments about having a holiday house in Liverpool, however, I decided that I want to buy a house or flat in London, since it probably has less crime. I do not want to rent a house/flat. I would like to buy one, since I can afford to buy. Since I can't get a mortgage in the UK because I'm not a resident, would paying for a house/flat in London (or anywhere else in England) using cash be a quicker process. How long would it take to to purchase a house/flat in cash in the UK.

I would only be able to come to the UK for at most 3 weeks, so if the buying process of the London property takes 4 weeks, would I have to be in the UK during to whole buying process, or could I be in the United States during the the beginning and/or end of the process. In other words, could the buying process be done on the phone/ and or internet?

Again, the London property would be used for holidays for 2-3 weeks per year.

I am really curious!!!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2012, 10:22 PM
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Do you have <i>ANY</i> idea how much property in London costs??

In round numbers about how much 'cash' would you have. It had better be HUNDREDS of thousands of $$$. Half a million dollars won't touch a flat in many parts of the city.

There are cheap-ish parts of London, but none where you would want to buy a place.

What do you mean by tourist visa?
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Old Jul 28th, 2012, 10:48 PM
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As our British friends probably still choke on their morning cup of tea at the idea of buying a nice property in a nice London neighborhood to let it sit empty for 49-50 weeks a year, I think you should rephrase your question.
Since money is probably not an issue, I would ask for a renowned relocation companies.

Even though you do not plan to relocate or move permanently, relocation companies offer exactly the service you look for, i.e. go house-hunting for you, they understand local laws re. taxes, they arrange the financial transaction, e.g. Through their own lawyers or those they regularly do business with, and hook up your place with the local utility companies, from gas and electricity to your subscription of Sky and security firm. You obviously don't buy the property literally with cash. But have it transferred from your US account to the property broker' account. They can also hook you up with service companies that handle your mail and take action on location. For example, if you rented a flat there could be a problem with water or gas pipes one floor above you so that the repair company needed access to your flat to fix it from there. You probably don't want to fly to London just to open the door for them.

Usually the relocation company will arrange visits to the potential properties within a compact time frame, so you would only need to be physically around for a a few days to decide what property to buy.

All these services come with a price tag, obviously. But you probably won't be able to do it on your own without local experts involved.
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Old Jul 28th, 2012, 11:17 PM
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All of the information you are looking for under one roof.
http://uk.angloinfo.com/
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 12:02 AM
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As a bigger city, London will have more crime than Liverpool. Even nice parts of the city are prone to crime, burglary etc.

Some parts of London are as bad as anything you will find in Liverpool.

An empty flat is just asking to be broken into....
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 12:18 AM
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Dhs93

You simply need to do more thinking.

Your processes on show thus far indicate that either you are at the very early stages of this idea or that you have not done enough research.

The UK property market is both overpriced and in most areas dead as a door nail. Buy in the wrong location and you will be stuck with a Florida style problem ie no use out of the property, falling values and no rental potential. If you really want to burn money, how about jointly buying an Italian sports car with me, it would be far more fun.

In your last post, you were buying in Toxteth where a 3 bed house could cost £20k, inner London will cost 20 times that amount, at least.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 12:24 AM
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>>The UK property market is both overpriced and in most areas dead as a door nail. Buy in the wrong location and you will be stuck with a Florida style problem ie no use out of the property, falling values and no rental potential.<<

To be fair, that may be true of many places in the UK, but certainly not London where prices continue to soar, exacerbated by the rich Italians, Greeks and Spanish trying to put their cash in something solid. The London property market has been beyond solid for decades, and is full of homes that rich foreigners hardly ever step into.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 12:26 AM
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Most of the comments in your other thread about the obligations of home ownership also apply to London. A story in today's <i>Sunday Times</i> Home section said that London is now the most expensive city in the world for prime properties, outstripping Hong Kong, New York, and Tokyo among others.

To give you an idea of what is available in London, go to http://residentialsearch.savills.co....on/london/ec3n. Before you have a heart attack you may want to change the filter to "Lowest price first". Note that most of these properties are leasehold rather than freehold, and the cheaper ones are very small and in less fashionable districts. ;-)
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 02:52 AM
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Some of my family members (the wealthy ones who live abroad but are Brits) have taken a flat or multiple flats to have a pied-a-terre. What they did was to bring in a management company who have the opportunity to use the flat for short term lets, ensure the windows are clean, the fridge full of food for their use and so the rents they earn cover the basic operating costs of the thing. How much rental is achieved or sort can be set by you.

There are plenty of companies who will do this for you and I will not recommend the one they used.

Purchase can be very fast (if large amounts of cash are about and the property is empty) or slow if the flat you chose is part of a "chain" of other property sales.

Luckily the majority of properties have to be registered on a central government database so chasing up who owns what, who has responibility for water pipes or keeping the lift working and who can charge for what is much clearer now than in former times.

Many soliciters offer a transfer service and unless law is a hobby for you then you should let them (charges are not high and negotiate on price, lawyers love to negotiate), depending on property values there is a tax to be paid which the solicitor should organise for you.

Normally you get a physical survey done by an expert before the deal goes through. These can be either useless or very worthwhile. Generally get the questions you want answered as well just a general survey done is best and I find negotiating over price on this is a false economy.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 02:58 AM
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If I were you, I would also poke around on Amazon.co.uk and buy a UK version of advice on how to buy a house (something like House Buying for Dummies). From talking with friends in Wales, the terminology and process there is quite different than in my US state, and I'd think having a reference explaining it would be useful in talking with, for instance, relocation agents.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 03:48 AM
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My daughter has a flat that she lets short term. It is on the Thames 1/2 mile from Tower Bridge. She pays 25% to a management company.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 04:32 AM
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Wouldn't it make more sense if only going to London a couple weeks a year, and having oodles of money, just to stay at some luxury hotel?

Personally, I wouldn't want to own a place that was being let out to tourists short term, as then it would just be like a hotel, so what is the point (assuming it isn't to make money, that was never mentioned as a goal). You can't have anything nice in there nor your things if you are letting it out to tourists or other people short-term. Given the antipathy to renting an apartment instead of owning one, I can't imagine that idea is very attractive, anyway (letting out your home to strangers repeatedly all year for short-term stays).

There are some very wealthy people who do this type of thing I have heard, own homes all over the world that they only visit a few weeks a year. I don't understand it myself, even if wealthy, I'd just stay in a luxury hotel. Madonna and Oprah Winfrey come to mind, not to mention David and Victoria Beckham who have at least a dozen, as I recall.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 04:46 AM
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"<i>There are some very wealthy people who do this type of thing I have heard, own homes all over the world that they only visit a few weeks a year.</i>"

They also have full-time, live-in staff/caretakers at every property.

"<i>I do not want to rent a house/flat. I would like to buy one, </i>"

One can dream - heck I'd like to be 5'10" and a super model - doesn't mean it is possible/realistic. If you want to stay a few weeks in London every year (and aren't extremely wealthy), the reality is you are going to end up renting. Now, if you are a Silicon Valley millionaire/billionaire you can buy just about anything anywhere you want.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 05:43 AM
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Janis, are you unable to accept , as we do from you, what people say at face value? All this negativity is really very unattractive.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 07:45 AM
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janisj,

A tourist visa is the visa that tourists use to come into the UK. Another name for it is the general visitor visa.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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How about a fractional ownership?

http://www.londonfractions.com/

http://www.47parkstreet.com/fractional.shtml
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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dhs93: An American doesn't need a 'tourist' visa (called a <i>Visitor</i> visa). Applying for a document one does not need is weird enough.

Dukey: "<i>Janis, are you unable to accept , as we do from you, what people say at face value?</i>"

On the OP's other thread he was asking about buying a house in a Liverpool slum, and he has now jumped to buying a holiday flat in London. If you wish to take that a 'face value' . . . that is your choice.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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There are enough red flags on both of the OP's post to make me suspicious. I also have to ask why anyone who was seriously considering purchasing real estate in England would come here for advice.His last post pretty much tells all.
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Obviously we have no idea of your financial resources. But just a couple of points:

1) If you really want to do this you need to hook up with a company which will guide you through the process - from finding a property to understanding how to pay for it, provide services to maintain it and clue you in on local costs for taxes, utilities etc.

2) Agree that the wealthy who have homes all over the world don;t often have trouble with burglars or squatters since they hae full-time staff living inthe house year round to maintain it

3) In London typically yuo cannot buy a "freehold" as you do in the US - this means owning not just the building but the land underneath it. In London muchof the land it owned by uber wealthy and it has houses or flats on it - which you buy a 99 year lease - and obviusly as you get closer to the end of hte lease the more or an issues this can be

4) I suggest that you don;t have much of an ides what property costs in London. To get even the most basic one bedroom apartment in a decent area near the center will be half a million dollars and up - often way up. If you want an upscale property (which will have staff - such as doorman, custodian etc) you are talking more like a million. (This may sound high - but it's not - prices are similar to NYC or higher and you have to consider the dollar to pound value.) Also you have to realize that things which are standard in US apartments (AC, full size kitchen with 6' fridge, full kitchen, lots of closets) are often not available in older properties (which are many of those available.

And I seem to recall you were looking for a 2 bedroom place - so now multiply the prices again.

One of the things that I like to do when I travel is look at info on residences in real estate windows. And I can tell you prices for some places, as well as room sizes and facility standards, were surprisingly high to me. (And here a decent sized one bedroom in a middle class building costs at least $700,000.)
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Old Jul 29th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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To answer your question.

There is absolutely no need to be in Britain for even a nanosecond to buy property here. Thousands going on hundreds of thousands of people buy London houses and flats every year without needing to leave the comfort of their own homes on the other side of the world.

No step in the process really requires your physical presence. Why on earth would it? If you can afford London prices (and 99.999% of Americans can't), the vendor will happily take your cash by bank transfer. And most immigration officials will have no difficulty in believing you're coming in for a couple of weeks.

Incidentally, very few properties in London are leasehold any more. And 99% of the few Americans who can afford our prices can't afford to buy in the neighbourhoods where leasehold is still a feature of the market.
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