London's Property Industry

Being one of the largest cities in Europe, London is home to vast amounts of property. All of this property has to be maintained, bought, sold, leased and rented and there is a wide industry that goes into supporting the buildings that make up the city. From the northern suburbs, to the southern rim of London, property is one of the key industries that make up the dynamic economy of the city. Originally, London was a city port being the centre of worldwide economy with much of its warehouses and dockyards in the East of the city, closest to the sea. Nowadays, London has much more of a service economy, principally in the sectors of banking, finance, insurance and accounting. Therefore, much of the land that was given over to old industries has now been converted to office blocks and homes. Like most other large cities with a global reach, much of the property in London falls into two distinct categories - residential and offices. Of course, there are plenty of light industrial properties, too, but these are by far outweighed by the first two categories. From 2010, commercial property - taken as a whole in the capital - was worth in excess of £170 billion. As you might expect, much of this value is held in the central London areas, like the West End and the City.


Many of the businesses that operate in the city do not own their own property. Rather, they tend to rent their office space from a landlord on a lease basis. This means that there are some big landowners in the city who are well-known in the sector. Some land has been owned historically by the same families for centuries. The Duke of Westminster, for example, is the owner of much of the office space that lies close to London's principle shopping streets, Regent Street and Oxford Street. The Corporation of the City of London owns plenty of land that is devoted to commercial buildings in the City. However, there are also many smaller private owners of office spaces, too, and the market is certainly not sewn up. In recent years, newcomers to the London office owning scene have been made welcome with some significant planning permission being granted for the construction of new office blocks. Probably the most iconic and certainly the best-known of these new additions to the London skyline is the Shard which lies close to London Bridge, just to the south of the Thames. With many long term tenants in the majority of office buildings around the capital, the market for ownership of office blocks is relatively stable, with many investors looking for long-term growth in the sector as London continues to thrive as a centre for commerce and international corporations.

Residential Property

Since the global financial crisis took hold around the world, residential property prices in the UK were arrested and even fell back in some locations. London, which had seen greater growth than other parts of the country prior to the crash, certainly was not immune to this phenomenon. Nonetheless, residential property prices in the capital recovered more quickly than just about anywhere else in the UK, not say the whole of Europe. Not only did the house price index recover more rapidly in London in the years leading up to 2014, but they also began to rise more markedly than elsewhere. Some see this London-led property recovery as being something of a saviour for the UK as a whole. One of the principle reasons for London's residential property recovery has been because residences have been successfully marketed to overseas buyers by canny professionals in the industry. Much overseas investment has been made into London's houses in recent years, partly because the capital is viewed as a good place to live globally and partly because investors have sought to get in on the action and buy into a buoyant housing market before growth begins to decelerate.

Property Professionals

With so many homes and offices in London, there are a huge number of professionals in the property industry. Of course, many people will recognise that estate agents, who are brokers for the buying and selling of the capital's property, are doing well with a market that is seeing lots of trades. Behind this layer of professionals there are also a large number of property surveyors and legal advisors who are also working in support of the industry. London also has many people employed in the building maintenance sector. These include humble cleaners, glaziers, electricians, builders and roofers, among others. When it comes to the construction of new buildings, London also boasts in impressive design tradition, with plenty of the world's best-known architectural practices being based in the city. London is also home to many of the largest building contractors in the UK. So, when it comes to know how in the property industry, the capital really leads the way for the whole of the country.