The UK’s housing market is enjoying a 9% YoY growth, which is surprisingly strong considering the lockdown restrictions and inactivity of the market compared to usual. In fact, the lacklustre amount of the houses on the market suggests that this growth can be down to a lack of supply, as opposed to demand-led growth. So, will this lead to an even greater boom once lockdown restrictions ease?
Another reason behind this growth is the stamp duty holiday, which will be ending in June in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whilst a lot of the global property price growth in the past decade can be put down to cuts in interest rates, it seems they’ve settled, with little room for further cuts.
This may be good news for buyers, as prices may stabilise a bit. However, one thing the UK property market has been missing is its overseas investors. With Hong Kong residents purchasing $1.3 billion worth of homes in London from the new path to citizenship, we are still yet to see how growth will be affected once overseas investors can invest with more freedom of travel. It’s also important to factor in a strong pound, making forecasts even more difficult to predict.
So, with a strange and contradictory property market that is difficult to predict, let’s take a look at some of the UK’s best services when it comes to property: removal companies, real estate agencies, and best currency brokers. After all, regardless of how the market is doing, many of us just want to get on the property ladder – and we will aim to do this regardless of the market trend. However, if you are viewing your property purchase as solely an investment, then we will also explore overseas markets that could be a good option for Brits to invest in.
UK’s best remove company
Giant Removals operate in the London and Great London area. With several hundred 5/5 ratings and customer reviews, Giant Removals are a proven and professional company. Prices are around £65 per hour for a Luton Van and two workers, or £80 for three workers. Whilst these aren’t suitable for long distance removals, they’re a cheap and reliable choice for the London area.
White & Company
White & Company are an ideal choice for long distance removals. With 19 storage locations around the UK and 145 years of experience, it may just be worth getting one of their free online quotes. They even cover European and international removals, corporate moving, and various storage solutions.
Pickfords is likely the first removal company that comes to mind. With a large UK presence, Pickfords cover a vast range of areas within the UK and internationally for removal and storage services. It’s quick to get an online quote, and the prices do reflect a certain economies of scale in how large their operations are.
UK’s best real estate agencies
Established in 1855, Savills is one of the world’s leading property agents. With 600 offices around the world, Savills have a large back catalogue of properties, which is ideal if you’re open to moving further than your own town. Because of this, Savills have experience with investors and second-home buyers just as much as they do with first-time buyers.
Urban is an interesting new real estate agency. Having been voted 2018’s best online letting agent (ESTAS), the company offers instant valuations and a way to let out your property for a fraction of the cost. For £99, landlords can have their advert listed on Rightmove & Zoopla, receive Right to Rent verification, and have a 12 month eviction guarantee. There’s also a tonne of educational resources for landlords.
If you are fed up with the poor service that many people receive from estate agents and aren’t willing to pay thousands for it, Purple Bricks can be the ideal solution. This is the bridge to buying and selling privately, as you can show people around yourself and pay a fraction of the cost. Valuations are free, but Purple Bricks are known to not be very accurate with them, so don’t rely on this valuation as gospel.
UK’s best areas to buy a property
Leeds is arguably the fastest growing UK city. Being a northern city, prices are around £15,000 below the UK average. However, with great proximity to Sheffield, Manchester, and to a lesser extent Liverpool, Leeds has modernised and grown a lot over the past few years. The property market reflects this, with 5.5% annual growth in 2021.
Whilst Manchester is considerably larger than Leeds, it shares many of the same traits around growth. The city center has become a lot more gentrified and modern than it used to be, and property is even more difficult to get. Whilst this can be bad for many buyers, the ruthless competitiveness in the market currently indicates future price growth.
Being only two hours from London and relatively cheap a few years ago, home sellers have seen their properties increase by 21% in the past year. Again, it’s easy to rule out places of high growth as missing the boat, but there’s nothing to indicate price growth will slow down, particularly as people are rapidly being forced out of London’s property market.
Best areas globally for UK property buyers
Northern Cyprus is one of the cheapest regions in Europe to purchase a home, whilst Larnaca in the South has an average home price of $70,000 USD. With a gorgeously hot climate and low cost of living, Cyprus can be a great choice for expats, retirees, and possibly investors. Cyprus’ tourism market continues to rise (excluding times in the pandemic), so an affordable villa for AirBnB may yield fantastic returns.
Bulgaria may have a distant Eastern European image, but it’s very much a beautifully historic country with an EU membership – something that indicates growth. Property prices currently average £55,000, meaning you can get more for your money in Bulgaria than almost anywhere else in Europe. With a cheap cost of living, friendly locals, and amazing culture, Bulgaria is rising in popularity among expats, digital nomads, and holiday makers.
Estonia is in a similar situation of early growth with Bulgaria, though prices are slightly higher in Tallinn. However, Estonia is an impressively tech-centric country with a booming fintech and digital nomad scene. For this reason, it is not only easy to gain an e-residency there, but it’s got a very promising economic outlook. Being one of the best cities for WiFi and tech jobs in Europe, Estonia is a stunning option that has a resemblance of Nordic architecture and identity.
Best currency brokers for overseas property purchases
With the help of browsing the best currency brokers list by MTC.com, we can see TorFX as being a strong choice for FX solutions in overseas investments. Perhaps the UK’s best service for international transfers, TorFX is a great currency broker that specialises in overseas property purchases. With a dedicated dealer that can guide large and secure transfers, TorFX offers low margin, no-fee international transfers. Specialising in overseas property can lead to fantastic overseas expertise that may save money and avoid costly mistakes.
Currencies Direct are a great option with offices dotted around the world and 39 currencies supported. The global staff team has multi-lingual support, a dedicated dealer, low margins, and lots of experience in overseas property purchases. They offer bespoke guidance on specific country property markets, and also offer a plethora of hedging products that can reduce the currency risk of a property purchase.
OFX supports 55 currencies and has fantastic 24/7 customer support from around the world. OFX offers no fees, worldwide clients, hedging tools and a dedicated dealer. OFX is a highly reliable and credible FX broker that has great customer reviews and good rates. Whilst the smartphone app works smoothly, some transactions require a phone call still – something that is recommended when making large overseas investments, however.
Hopefully, this list of top services in the UK for property dealings has given you the resources to research the cheapest and most effective ways to buy and sell a home – and where. However, nothing can quite beat a broad understanding of the economy and markets in general, so it’s advised to conduct your own research prior to any financial activity.
Furthermore, with property investment becoming increasingly common (i.e. a rise in second-home buyers), it’s worth considering a more sophisticated form of property investment – if investing is the goal. One example of this may be property syndicates or investment funds that solely transform homes into AirBnB suites.