They are the overlooked gems of the London property market. Perfectly placed in the capital and often at discounted prices that are hard to beat.
Savvy owners and landlords are transforming lower ground-floor flats into light, spacious homes. Gone are the days when they were dark and dingy. A new breed of basement flat is coming to the market.
Sarah Bikhit, Lettings Manager, at Kay & Co, shares her tips on how to spot a lower-ground floor flat as a second-home investment property.
Q: How do you spot a lower-ground floor flat with potential?
A: “Location is everything. Look for apartments with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. And try to find properties that are slightly set back from the road or sheltered with less traffic noise. Ideally, the property needs some work, or the work has already been carried out and is ready to let.”
Q: Who do they suit?
A: “They are suitable for first-time landlords or those looking for a second-home investment property. These flats are also ideal for those working in the city, who are just starting out. Some people will not live below ground, but there are many who will see their potential.”
Q: What are the advantages?
A: “Many owners will go above and beyond to paint or dress them, in order to sell or let them. They often offer a great location at a discounted price.”
Q: How about size?
A: “They usually run across the entire footprint of the building. Some homes have their own separate entrance, which is popular with both tenants and owners.”
Q: And lighting?
A: “Lighting makes a huge difference. Think like a tenant. Mimic natural light with halogen bulbs, adding lamps in the right places. If there is outdoor space, which is rare in London, then light this area, too. Lighting really is key.”
Q: Should you dress them?
A: “Yes, dress the property with mirrors, bouncing light around the flat to give the feeling of extra space. But most importantly, make sure the property feels like home.”
Q: Where are the bargains?
A: “Don’t dismiss lower-ground floor flats without a viewing. That is often where bargains can be found. Many of these properties are kitted out to a high-standard with improved lighting or open-plan layouts.”
Q: When is the right time to buy?
A: “Search for properties when the market is slower, taking a view to sell in the medium or long-term when the market improves.”
Q: What about service charges?
A: “If you are buying a flat, then you will need to pay a service charge. But many lower-ground flats do not have lift access, so ultimately you might pay less service charge. This will help to maximise your rental return later.”
Q: Don’t they have a reputation of being dark?
A: “This was true in the past. Now many owners or landlords are reconfiguring their properties to add an extra bedroom or extra space and light.”
Q: How about the marketing?
A: “Price them competitively from the outset, whether selling or letting. Generate as much interest as possible, so the property does not sit on the market and cost you money.”
Q: And storage?
A: “Storage is important. Vaults under the road or pavement may not be demised to the flat, but they can often be used for hidden storage space.”
Q: Any other tips?
A: Look for flats that are raised lower-ground floor or are double aspect. They are often lighter and brighter. Some may include period features, which add extra charm and character. They may be marketed at a discounted price, need improving or be converted to a high standard already.”
Q: How do you know if you have found the right property?
A: “Trust both your head and your heart. It’s a combination of luck, experience and research. Often, you will know when walking into a flat for the first time, that you have found the one for you.”
• Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, King’s Cross, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Hyde Park, Fitzrovia, Regents Park, Paddington and The West End (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).
On the market: five of the best flats for sale or to let
• Inverness Terrace, Bayswater, London, W2 (£1,295 p/w)
Here is one of our best lower-ground floor flats currently to let. It is cool, calm and comfortable. Every detail has been considered from the walk-in wardrobe and the lighting, to the antique-style radiators throughout this two-bedroom apartment.
* View more details, here: www.kayandco.com/property-to-rent/new-development-to-rent-in-inverness-terrace-bayswater-london-w2/10848
• Upper Montagu Street, London W1H (£1,350,000)
This property is perfect for summer-living. On the outside, it has a terrace for enjoying the warmer summer days. On the inside, there are two bedrooms, two bathrooms with plenty of natural light and high ceilings.
View more details, here:
• Hyde Park Gardens, Hyde Park, London W2 (£1,115,000)
The location of this apartment is hard to beat. It is situated in a prestigious address, minutes from Hyde Park as well as the boutique shops of Connaught Village. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms and access to communal gardens.
View more details, here: www.kayandco.com/property-for-sale/apartment-for-sale-in-hyde-park-gardens-hyde-park-london-w2/8757
• Lisson Grove, Marylebone, London NW1 (£600,000)
Marylebone is experiencing a surge of interest from people looking to buy and rent in the area. Here is a two-bedroom flat with a modern look and feel. It has own its own entrance, as well as a private garden.
View more details, here: www.kayandco.com/property-for-sale/apartment-for-sale-in-lisson-grove-marylebone-london-nw1/9977
• Stanhope Terrace, London W2 (£1,250,000 for sale, or £845pw to let)
This property ticks all the boxes with bright open-plan living, plenty of storage and a porter on site. The new owner will be located near both Hyde Park and Connaught Village; with its delis, restaurants and bars. It is the only two-bedroom property on the lower ground floor in this building, so offers plenty of space for the price.
View more details, here: www.kayandco.com/property-to-rent/apartment-to-rent-in-stanhope-terrace-london-w2/11039