London property: finding the edge is a niche game these days.

Karim on the edge.jpg

A friend told me on holiday that I’m always looking for the edge.

How he noticed this while we were in line for the buffet I’ll never know!

It’s true though. My job is to give my clients an edge in the property acquisition process.

Because whether they are buying or selling, it’s precisely that edge that has never been harder to find… whichever way you look at London property, all sides of the spectrum are being squeezed. The lines are less blurred and more distinct, and it can cost dearly to cross them.

Property used to be a highly vague and subjective industry. Now there’s clarity and objectivity everywhere! As a result, it’s much harder to make money.

But as my friend was picking up in the queue, we Lebanese love one thing as much as we do food: business. As such it’s my mission to ensure that where there’s an edge to be found in London property, I’ll find it. But first you have to know where not to look, and as I’m in a generous, expansive mood, I’ll share some trade secrets.

Let’s look at where the edge used to exist:

-      Buying in an up-and-coming area: all the areas have come up, for goodness sake! Even Harringay is considered prime central, my friends in the North East (of London) tell me.

-      Flipping a development for a quick profit: there are no ‘doer-uppers’ left, or at least 80% less than there were ten years ago. You can take an ok property and refurbish, but you need to know what you are doing and get your timing right.

-      Low tax on buy-to-let gains with favorable payment terms: higher taxes and fewer deductibles mean buy to lets are no longer a slam dunk, and landlords are being forced into professional standards of conduct that make ‘side projects’ look more like full-time jobs.

-      Buying through offshore companies: Prohibitive taxes and unprecedented levels of transparency are scaring off grey-area clients. Unexplained Wealth Orders mean spending habits can be made public and properties repossessed if money can’t be traced – or can, to the wrong sources.

Some of these are extreme examples however they do impact the market as a whole. Additive to geo-politics, factors like these can combine to influence the decisions of a much wider audience than those directly affected by individual points.

For a long time the above areas were the low-hanging fruit of the London property market. They enabled casual investors to look very clever, by making quick and substantial gains possible for a wide group of people.

Now, people in property have to climb the tree to find the fruit.

This means that there is no longer any room for bit-part players. If you want to find an edge in property, you need a pro who spends all day everyday all the way up the tree.

London property is actually more like a mycelium – that’s the vast interconnected web of roots that live beneath the floor of the jungle, allowing trees to coexist, intermingle, and some would say communicate with one another. Only someone used to navigating this ecosystem, and able to pick the more obscure fruits that present themselves unexpectedly as they do so – can be expected to find the edge.

Whether it’s development gems, hearing about a house or development opportunity months before it’s due to come on the market, or negotiating a bargain on the surplus of super-prime properties that currently populate the capital. Only someone in the know can leverage the marginal gains needed to give you a head start.

And at the other end of the spectrum, the edge is found in smaller matters too, that so often prove the difference between your new home feeling like a headache, or a sanctuary.

The edge can come in many forms. From free furniture to free parking. It can come down to the right air conditioning unit, or simply ensuring that contractually you are represented and supported above and beyond what is usually considered reasonable. At Homes One (and especially with our new interiors arm –, we are passionately committed to finding the edge on your behalf, and giving you the safety of knowing you are in the right hands.

We are in the game every day, and as a result we are in the know.

That’s the only edge there is to find these days.

Karim Bazzi