At the height of the property boom, there was no shortage of homeowners doing up flats, selling them and making a tidy profit.
You don’t hear it as much these days, but that does not mean it is impossible? No - you just need to make the right decisions and play your cards right on the property ladder. Of course, if it was easy everyone would be doing it, but here are our tips for those looking to make their first move into property development.
1. Buy the worst house on the best street. It is a cliché, but if you can get a toe-hold in a sought-after residential street, you may reap the benefits in the long term.
2. Target up-and-coming locations and streets. They are not always easy to find, but if you analyse house price trends across your chosen areas, and factor in future developments, such as improved transport links, it’s a good place to start.
3. Form a good working relationship with an estate agent you trust. You want to be the first person your agent calls when a property comes on the market.
4. Add value. Whether you employ builders or are into DIY, consider adding a loft extension, a conservatory or reconfiguring to add an extra bedroom.
5. A hands-on approach is key. Unless you are exceptionally lucky, a property will only shoot up in value as the result of the effort you have put into choosing it and improving it.
6. Be prepared to mortgage yourself. It may feel a bit scary, but so long as mortgage rates remain low, it is one of the best ways to raise the capital needed to give a property a major makeover. But beware, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, is already hinting at rate rises in the near future.
7. Don’t rely on the market. Nobody became a property millionaire by sitting around, waiting for house prices to rise. You need to start thinking about your next move up the property ladder almost as soon as you have moved in to your first home.
8. Think of your property as both an asset and a potential liability. If it is vacant or unlet for any length of time, it can quickly become the latter.
9. Focus on one property at a time. It is generally easier to make a profit on a single property, adding value to it, than to adopt a scatter-gun approach and try to build a large portfolio too quickly.
10. Never pay above the odds. If you pay more than the market price, you may struggle later when selling your home.
There are no guarantees where property is concerned. But the London property market is still dynamic enough to reward people ambitious enough to grow their property assets.
•Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale or to rent in Marylebone, Bayswater, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Hyde Park, Fitzrovia, Regents Park and The West End (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).