Guide To Buying

Guide to buying London property

Whether you are looking for a property to buy in Westminster, Pimlico, Victoria, St Johns Wood, Bayswater, Paddington, Edgware Road or Maida Vale we are here to help. Please see our guide to buying a property below

What service can I expect from an estate agent?

CityWest Residential, like all estate agents are paid by the seller (vendor) to introduce a buyer to the vendor’s property and oversee the sale by liaising with all parties including solicitors.

An estate agent should, and is obliged to act in the best interests of the seller, and is not obliged to highlight any negative aspects of the property to you. It can often be difficult for estate agents to please both buyer and seller, though many experienced agents, such as CityWest Residential will do their utmost to assist both parties as fairly as possible.

Professional estate agents will belong to the Ombudsman Scheme for Estate Agents (OEA). Member agents must comply with these associations code of conduct or face fines and penalties. Agents must advise the seller of all ‘offers’ they receive from potential buyers.

How much can you afford?

The first thing you need to do is decide how much you can afford. Buying a property for sale in Westminster can often be quite expense. You will need to look at how much money you have available yourself and how much you can borrow. There are a number of different financial institutions which offer loans to people buying a property, for example, building societies and banks, our website has a page that will also assist you.

Before finally deciding how much to spend on a property, you need to be sure you will have enough money to pay for all the additional costs. These include:-

  • Survey fees
  • Valuation fees
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Land registry fee
  • Local authority searches
  • Fees, if any, charged by the mortgage lender or someone who arranges the mortgage, for example, a mortgage broker
  • The buyer’s solicitor’s costs
  • Removal expenses
  • Any final bills, for example, gas and electricity, from your present home which will have to be paid when you move.

For more information about Stamp Duty Land Tax, go to the Directgov website at

How to find a property

 There are a number of ways in which you could find a property to buy in Westminster and the surrounds:-

  • Using estate agents such as CityWest Residential
  • Looking at the property pages in local newspapers
  • Contacting house building companies for details of new properties being built in the area
  • Looking on the internet at various property portals, such as rightmove, findaproperty, zoopla etc.
  • Visiting estate agents in Westminster, Pimlico, Victoria, St Johns Wood, Bayswater, Paddington, Edgware Road or Maida Vale

Deciding on a property

When you find a property you should arrange to look at it to make sure it is what you will need and to get some idea of whether or not you will have to spend any additional money on the property, for example, for repairs or decoration. It is common for a potential buyer to visit a property two or three times before deciding to make an offer.

What is leasehold, freehold or commonhold?
Freehold property 

If the property is freehold, this means that the land on which the property is built is part of the sale and no ground rent or service charge is payable. Freehold 

Leasehold property 

A property may be leasehold, which means that the land on which the property is built is not part of the sale. You have to pay ground rent to the owner of the land - who is called the freeholder. Frequently property for sale in Westminster is leasehold.

The length of a lease can vary and you should check that the length of the lease on the property you are interested in buying is acceptable to the mortgage lender.

In addition to ground rent on a leasehold property, you may have to pay an annual service charge. This usually happens with a flat. The service charge covers such items as maintenance and repairs to the buildings, cleaning of common parts and looking after the grounds.

A group of leaseholders living in the same building may have a right to jointly buy the freehold of the building or take over its management.
In England and Wales, you can get further advice about leasehold from:- 

The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE)
Maple House
149 Tottenham Court Road
London W1T 7BN
Tel: 020 7383 9800
Fax: 020 7383 9849
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There is also a useful leaflet on leasehold rights in England and Wales. Go to the website of the Communities and Local Government Department at:
To get the leaflet in different languages and different formats, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Commonhold property

If the property is commonhold, this means that you can buy the freehold of a flat and own common parts of the building jointly with the owners of other flats in the building (known as a commonhold association).

In commonhold a ground rent or service charge is not payable. However, a share of the commonhold association's expenditure on maintenance, insurance and administration will be payable for the common parts of the building.

Arranging a mortgage

If you have not already begun to arrange a mortgage, you should start to do this now. It should take about three weeks from the application for the mortgage to the formal offer being made by the lender. However, this timescale may vary. Please see details on our Website.

Whoever agrees to lend the money will want to have the property valued. This is to make sure that the lender could get the loan back if for any reason you stopped paying your mortgage and the house had to be sold again. The valuation will be done by a surveyor on behalf of the lender but you will have to pay for this valuation. The fee will be payable in advance, usually when you send a completed mortgage application form to the lender.

If the amount of money to be borrowed is more than a certain percentage of the valuation of the property (usually 75-80%), your lender may make it a condition of the loan that you take out extra insurance to cover the extra amount.
Source C.A.B 

Sales and Lettings Manager
Alastair Murray
victoria estate agents
CityWest Residential Office

21 Grosvenor
London SW1X 7EA

+44 (0)20 7245 2222
Contact our City West Residential Office

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