London offers good buy-to-let property investment opportunities, expert claims

A leading South African property investment company believes the UK is one of the best places to buy property at the moment.

The current global economic environment has left investors wary about where to put their money due to lingering subprime concerns and high inflation, according to Scott Picken, chief executive of the International Property Solutions company.

'I think the most important thing with the UK is there's a lot of uncertainty at the moment. Mortgages have come down 70% in the last 12 months, and they expect transaction values are going to decrease from 2007 to 2008 to as little as 17%. The most important thing with the UK market is the fundamentals are in place and demand outstrips supply. I'd say if someone is taking a medium to long-term view they can make good and wise and studious investment for the future,' he added.

Picken, who heads up the company's London office, said that speaking to others in the industry it is clear that a lot of foreign investors are talking advantage of the uncertainty in the UK. 'A third of the property transactions in the last quarter in London have actually been foreign internationals investing in London,' he said.

He believes the UK capital is a good buy-to-let opportunity as long as investors take into account the transport system. 'Never own a property that's more than 10 minutes away from a tube station. If you are further than 10 minutes you are going to battle to get a tenant. The most fundamental thing with investing offshore and particularly in London and the UK is knowing where tenant demand is and then finding a property that's within that tenant demand,' he said.

'London outperforms the rest of the UK put together. Basically in Wimbledon there's 60,000 South Africans that live there alone. They are all young professionals that want good accommodation close to their place of work, close to a tube station. You give them a power shower and DSTV and you have a tenant for two years.'

Prime buy-to-let spots include Canary Wharf, Greenwich, Wimbledon, Clapham and Putney. As there is good strong tenant demand in those areas. 'Outside of London people tend to want to buy stand-alone homes and you are looking to rent to families,' he said.