The wealthy buyers cashing in on coronavirus: London homes worth up to £22MILLION are being snapped up after virtual tours as investors seek out stable prospects amid plummeting stock prices
- Agents and developers are selling prime London properties via virtual tours
- Prime homes being marketed this way include a £22.5million Belgravia mansion
- Interest has come from buyers seeking secure investments at an uncertain time
- Lockdown rules prevent estate agents from selling properties in person
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
British real estate agents and property developers are using virtual tours to market prime London homes during the coronavirus lockdown, it has been revealed.
Mansions and apartments in ultra-desirable locations like Islington, Kensington and Notting Hill are being shown remotely by agents via 360-degree online tours, allowing prospective buyers to view the property without leaving their home.
Among the properties currently available to view include a six-bedroom Belgravia mansion, on the market with Beauchamp Estates for £22.5million, and apartments in Borough, south London, from Galliard Homes, which are available from £1.3million.
Jeremy Gee, managing director of Beauchamp Estates, explained that they have received interest from buyers from the UK, Middle East and Far East who are looking for a secure investment amid the ongoing stock market crisis.
From £3.9million, Soho: Beauchamp Estates are providing virtual viewings for four apartments at 2 Royalty Mews. Set in a private cobbled courtyard, the development consists of the transformation of a historic music studios into three two-bedroom apartment and a penthouse
£22.5million, Belgravia: A Grade II listed six bedroom mansion at Lygon Place in Belgravia. Set behind security gates with a porter’s lodge, the mansion provides luxurious living space over four floors, connected by passenger lift and grand staircase. Features include an impressive reception, five VIP bedroom suites, private cinema, staff quarters and underground parking
He said: ‘Currently the exchange rate makes it very advantageous for overseas buyers purchasing London real estate. And, with the global Stock Markets in flux, a lot of billionaires and millionaires want to take their money out of unstable stocks and shares and put it into fixed assets such as Gold, premium real estate and US Bonds. This always happens at times of global crisis.’
It comes after UK Government lockdown rules put an end to traditional property viewings, with non-essential travel banned and people advised to stay at home.
Buyers and sellers have also been urged to halt all property sales while the UK is on lockdown.
Many mortgage lenders are either reducing the number of applications they are reviewing, or ceasing to accept them completely, as they are inundated with requests for mortgage holidays from struggling households.
However there is nothing to stop potential buyers, even those who need a substantial loan, from ‘reserving’ a property to signal intent with the view of buying at a later date.
David Galman, sales director at Galliard Homes, said: ‘The new UK Government Coronavirus lockdown rules have totally transformed London’s property landscape.
£10million, Islington: In North London there are five, three or four bedroom townhouses available to view virtually, each with underground parking. Pictured, one of the bedrooms
From £849,500, Kensington: A development at 158 Old Brompton Road offers three dressed residences, pictured, comprising two one bedroom apartments and a two bedroom penthouse
‘Historically some of the agents and developers have offered so-called virtual viewings, but mostly they are just videos or a photo library, not a truly inter-active exchange and real time tour involving both the buyer and the sales agent.
Q&A: Buying and selling in lockdown
Why has the property market been frozen?
Buyers and sellers have been urged to delay moving to protect the nation’s health amid the coronavirus crisis.
Can I still move if I have exchanged contracts?
The Government has not banned people from moving entirely. Its advice includes an exemption for ‘critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed’. You can also go ahead if the property you are purchasing is empty.
Will I face a penalty for missing completion date?
The Government is working to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates. For now, speak to your solicitor and estate agent for advice.
And my mortgage offer?
Mortgage offers are usually valid for up to six months. If the offer expires before your house purchase completes you must start the process again. But banks have agreed to extend mortgage offers by up to three months for those who need to delay their completion date.
Can I still go ahead if I haven’t exchanged?
If you have not exchanged contracts, you should park the purchase for now. Contact the estate agent for advice.
Can I try to sell my home?
There should be no visitors to your home, making surveys, valuations and viewings near impossible. If you do sell your home, ensure the completion date is moveable and conditional upon social distancing rules in case you fall ill.
What if I am buying a new-build?
Contact the developer. Building work may have been temporarily suspended and your house may not be finished on time, which would mean you may need to request a mortgage offer extension.
‘When interative offerings were done, it was in the past at very small levels and not a mainsteam offering.
‘Now of course London’s developers and estates have had to launch and offer large-scale virtual viewings in light of the latest guidance from the Ministry of Housing and the Law Society on marketing and transaction procedures during the Coronavirus lockdown.’
He continued: ‘Buyers can have a virtual viewing and then make a reservation on a Galliard apartment, for a reservation fee of just £2,000. The virtual viewings are just like real world property tours and attract a wide range of buyers.
‘Currently we are happy to take reservations from people who need mortgages, regardless of the current situation, and review matters in say 12-16 weeks time as the current situation unfolds. We want to help buyers as much as possible.
‘For the starter homes, available via help to buy, it’s a very domestic marketplace and last week we had lots of UK people wanting virtual viewings.’
Cash buyers willing to pay outright are more likely to be seeking properties on the higher end of the market, Mr Galman explained.
The Government has advised buyers to avoid moving into a home currently occupied by another owner, to reduce the number of people moving and interacting, however there are no rules against people moving in to a vacant property.
This means cash buyers able to complete their deals on a vacant, new-build home could move in immediately.
Mr Galman continued: ‘Developers and estate agents, with sales agents, working remotely or from home, can market properties via virtual viewings technology and remote telephone/video calls, and offers can be made and accepted.
‘For unoccupied and new build homes like those the developers are marketing, once contracts are exchanged, transactions can continue without any delay since there are no existing occupier risks.’
The virtual viewings operate, in a large part, like in-person viewings. A prospective buyer gives over control of their computer, phone or tablet screen to the agent, who is then able to offer a guided tour of the property.
The agent, who is also connected by phone to the buyer, is able to highlight key features, zoom in on areas of interest, and answer in real time.
The approach has proved successful thus far with Galliard receiving two reservations so far.
From £815,000, Islington: Islington Square, a new Covent Garden style destination for Islington, with newly completed apartments. Pictured, a maisonette apartment
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