A quick whip-round some of Savills’ London offices suggests that anywhere between one in three and one in eight active buyers are parents or trusts looking to invest in a property for their children. With prices in the capital still considerably down on their 2007 peak, the recent dissemination of pension pots and rock-bottom interest rates, many feel property is the safest reservoir for their cash. Guy Meacock of buying agents Prime Purchase, which acts for a number of trusts looking to invest in property, agrees: ‘There’s never been a stronger argument to invest in something tangible, such as a property in London.’
There are several points to bear in mind when buying for children, especially if you’re planning on letting rooms out to their friends. Firstly, choose a property that’s five to 10 minutes’ walking distance from a Tube or overland station. Then, buy as many berooms as you can afford and ensure that they’re all doubles, to avoid having a sliding scale of rent based on room size. It’s best not to look at the investment as one that will have a high yield. Instead, go for capital growth: choose an area that’s low risk and a property that will provide a small income, but don’t be too ambitious.
It’s also advisable to look for something that’s relatively low maintenance (mansion flats or purpose-built blocks are worth considering). Flat-sharers aren’t known for taking the utmost care of their surroundings, so think Ikea not Oka for furnishing. Also, agents advise parents to find a flat of sufficient quality that will last the course. ‘Consider whether you would be happy to live there in five to 10 years’ time, as well as whether it’s right for your children now,’ says Cliff Gardiner of The Buying Solution.
For parents who have children currently at university, many recommend this as the best time to buy, in order to avoid being burdened with landlord duties for too long. But, with prices gearing up again in the capital, others are taking a more long-term view. Knight Frank’s office in Notting Hill has a client who is buying for his 12-year-old daughter, and George Franks at Douglas & Gordon is working for someone who wants to buy three similar-sized properties in the same area one for each of his children, who are still at school.