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<strong>Camilla Dell<br />MANAGING PARTNER AT BLACK BRICK</strong><br /><br /><strong>Q. Dear Camilla, I'm thinking of buying a property for investment. Are there any particular areas or hot spots in London that I should be considering at the moment?</strong><br /><br /><strong>A.</strong>Well, an area that we quite like at the moment is Fulham, which is on the edge of Chelsea and is also very well connected to the City. The area saw some of the biggest price drops during the downturn and exceeded the average of 25 per cent seen elsewhere in the capital. <br /><br />But because the prices came down by so much during the downturn, there&rsquo;s now more scope for them to bounce back up as the market starts to recover. There will be a knock-on effect and prices should start to come back up in Fulham.<br /><br />Chelsea is a big area but the SW10 postcode in particular is an area we consider to be a particular hotspot right now. This part of Chelsea has come down the most and it is again for this reason that we see it as having proportionately more potential for investment buyers. <br /><br />It may have come down in price as much as Fulham but it has a Chelsea postcode, which is important if you want to appeal to buyers seeking the cachet of living in Chelsea and close to the King&rsquo;s Road. <br /><br />At the start of this year we were really pushing our clients to consider Kensington for investment purchases but unfortunately that window has now gone. <br /><br />The area saw a 30 per cent drop in house prices but that gap has now closed and it no longer offers as good value for money.<br /><br /><strong>Q. Dear Camilla, I am looking to purchase a buy-to-let property, so are there any basic steps that I should take to ensure that I maximise the return on my investment?</strong><br /><br /><strong>A.</strong> It&rsquo;s often difficult when looking for properties to buy as an investment to see their true potential as a home that perhaps can be let out successfully and that will also appreciate in value. <br /><br />I know it sounds obvious, but the fact is that the key is to buy well and at the right price. You need to make sure that you are not paying over the odds for the property and you need to buy in an area that is attractive &ndash; ie, close to shops and transport connections. <br /><br />And don&rsquo;t shy away from properties that need work &ndash; you won&rsquo;t have to pay as much for them and you can easily add to the house&rsquo;s value through renovation and refurbishment. Updating the kitchen or bathroom, repainting or putting in new floors will all increase the value of your investment. <br /><br />And if you have a share of the freehold and can get permission from the council, then extending the property&rsquo;s square footage will undoubtedly allow you to maximise your returns. If you can add an extra bedroom and bathroom to the property then that&rsquo;s excellent and you should get a better return on it when you come to sell it. Being able to develop cleverly and making the most of the space is the key to successful property investing. <br /><br />And at the moment, don&rsquo;t be wary of properties with a short lease extension. Because the cost of the extension is dependent on the current market value of the house, the still depressed market offers investors an ideal opportunity to apply. <br /><br />Camilla Dell is the managing partner at search and acquisition consultancy Black Brick. www.black-brick.com.