THE principle of ''buyer beware'' risks being forgotten in the stampede to buy London property. Experienced Hongkong buyers will be aware that the British capital is a sprawling city with traffic congestion and severely under-funded tube and train systems. Inexperienced potential investors may not be so aware of London's drawbacks and should undertake thorough research prior to making a commitment in any sector: residential, commercial or industrial. They should also be aware that estate agents can have somewhat ''elastic'' concepts of time and distance. For example, the 127 two-and three-bedroom apartments which make up the new Regent On The River complex are being billed as ''overlooking the Thames and only minutes from London's dynamic business and commercial centres''. This is only half true. The Regent does indeed overlook the river, but its location is between Chelsea Harbour and Wandsworth Bridge. This means commuting is a substantially different proposition compared with, say, the journey from Robinson Road down to Central. Indeed, with most modes of transport other than a helicopter, the number of minutes required to reach London's authentic central business district (CBD), the City, would be nearer 60 than six. The fact that a private shuttle bus service will be provided to link the development with the District Line underground station at Fulham Broadway rather gives the game away. There is, of course, no suggestion that selling agents Cluttons, in association with Richard Ellis, and developers Bovis, are seeking to mislead anybody. In fact, they provide a better location map than many in their brochure. But extravagant and unrealistic claims serve only to undermine agents' credibility and deter potential purchasers, who need only consult the full London A-Z map book to see for themselves. Richard Ellis and Cluttons made the decision to market two modern apartment blocks abroad in December. Manager Mr William Green said the London market was too soft at the time. ''We felt there was more activity in Hongkong,'' he said. ''In hindsight, we could have saved ourselves a lot of money. There is now a market in London: there is no doubt about that.'' Enquiries to Cluttons' six London offices in January and February were up 79 per cent on the previous year. The city firm joined forces with Richard Ellis last year in a move which gives the Hongkong-based property agents a stronger hand in the London market. Mr Green said he was ''quietly confident'' the whole project would sell out in Hongkong. Four apartments have already been sold and nine more are under offer. Two apartment blocks, one of eight storeys and one of nine, make up the Regent on the River development. New leases are for 999 years and, as ''new build'' property, each flat comes with a 10-year NHBC guarantee. A two-bedroom flat between 1,100 and 1,400 square feet costs GBP168,000 (about HK$1.93 million). A three-bedroom version at 1,500 sq ft is GBP250,000. There are also three penthouse flats at about GBP400,000.