Would-be buyers are finding under-developed areas where prices are still relatively affordable — at least for now.
The hunt for affordability is driven by the news that the gap between earnings and house prices in the capital is at record levels.
The average sales price last year was 13.24 times average earnings (compared with 7.77 across England and Wales), and the typical first-time buyer deposit was £96,920, versus £25,761 nationally.
“By either measure, affordability is difficult,” says Savills analyst Lawrence Bowles.
This is sending buyers into untapped locations that traditionally have been overlooked by developers.
But it’s not just about finances. Prospective homeowners are also on the hunt for areas with a bit of character, where affordable can even meet cool. The trick is how to spot the right place.
Southall, Silvertown and Brent Cross South have been revealed in a new study as three of London’s untapped locations where average property prices are below the £500,000 mark. Clapton, Sydenhamand Leytonstone are also on the list.
The report by Cushman & Wakefield has analysed London’s 104 distinct districts between Zone 2 and the M25, categorising them from untapped and ripe for change to well established and built-up.
“Every single area has a different vibe,” says Cushman & Wakefield’s Oliver Christy.
“Yet there are some common factors that propel change more quickly: access to the transport network and existing park land are huge catalysts for investment.
"Pockets with space for creative industries, studios, workshops and co-working hubs are an indicator of where next will become arty and cool,” he adds.
Southall has a really clapped-out shopping centre and some local shops but it’s the supply of land (old utility sites) and the imminent arrival of Crossrail, that has piqued developers’ interest.
Once the Elizabeth line is running through the Southall Crossrail interchange it will take only eight minutes to Heathrow, 13 to Paddington and 24 to Liverpool Street.
Southall, which Christy describes as “on the cusp of change”, is currently cheaper than its neighbouring areas, Brentford, Greenford and Heston. It has been predicted by Rightmove to become one of the highest price-growth areas in London as the vast Ealing regeneration spreads.
There’s a ready-made employment market, says Jack Ballatine of Sotheby’s International Realty.
“Aside from Crossrail, the Heathrow expansion is set to create 40,000 jobs locally. There are also a number of leading hospitals in the area that provide for an already strong workforce.”
The first developers are breaking ground and over the next three years locals will see 3,500 homes springing up from developers Strawberry Star, Redrow and Berkeley Group, to be built alongside the existing Victorian terrace houses.
There are three Ofsted-rated outstanding schools within a 20-minute walk of Southall station, and Southall Park, the Grand Union Canal and West Middlesex Golf Club provide outside space and room to breathe.
Sotheby’s is selling homes in the new Greenview Court complex comprising four blocks up to 11 floors. Once complete it will deliver 118 apartments from studio flats to three-bedroom family homes. Prices start from £340,000.
Shoe entrepreneur Katie Owen, 41, bought a large Victorian terrace on the Hanwell-Southall border five years ago.
The former banker, whose company Sargasso & Grey (sargassoshoes.com) makes heels for ladies with wide feet, moved from Forest Hill to get more for her money as she started a family.
The five-bedroom house needed an overhaul and Owen, with her husband Andy, changed the façade, modernised three bathrooms, moved and extended the kitchen and created a roof terrace.
With two young boys, she loves the local park, which has a small zoo, and they are watching the streets change around them.
“This area has so much potential with lovely big houses, decent schools and Crossrail,” she says.
“New pubs, restaurants and coffee shops are popping up along with new homes.”
BRENT CROSS WEST
Brent Cross has undergone dramatic change since the introduction of the shopping centre in 1976 — the first standalone outlet of its kind.
Russell Quirk of eMoov describes a transition from “rough and ready, with little to offer outside the greyhound track, to a hotspot for young families taking that first step out of the city”.
But there’s more change to come, says Christy, with a retail upgrade that will form the northern axis of the four main London shopping centres: Brent Cross, Westfield White City, Westfield Stratford and Westfield Croydon.
This is part of the £4.5 billion regeneration masterplan which the developer Hammerson has planning consent to deliver.
Along with two million sq ft of retail space, a cinema complex and 50 new restaurants, the proposal specifies 52 apartments ranging from one-bedroom pads to three-bedroom homes.
The other major catalyst for change is the new Thameslink stationon the line running from Brighton to Luton.
“This is a game-changer and will put Brent Cross on the map for families who still want to be within 15 minutes of the centre of London,” says Quirk.
Just on the other side of the M1 from Brent Cross is the 2,000-home Barratt development overlooking the Welsh Harp reservoir conservation area.
Prices start from £384,000 at Hendon Waterside and Help to Buy is available.
There’s are still swathes of brownfield to build on in Silvertown — just south of the Royal Docks and London City Airport.
Once the epicentre of sea trade for London, Silvertown is a former-industrial hub that will now benefit from a £3.7 billion investment programme.
As well as the half-built Asian business park (ABP), which will bring shops, restaurants and offices to the area, it has a beach, and a floating village is planned.
A CrossFit gym has opened — a sign that young residents are flooding in.
Once Crossrail runs from the DLR’s station at Custom House, it will take only 10 minutes to reach Liverpool Street.
Tom O’Connor, 32, was an early settler in Silvertown, moving into his apartment in the Royal Albert Wharf development in 2016.
“I was really keen to buy into the regeneration of the area. It hasn’t disappointed. I have witnessed brand new facilities spring up that have changed my life.
"There are now several local cafés to choose from, including the new Lockside Kitchen, and a genuine sense of community is growing.”
Prices for a one-bedroom apartment at Royal Albert Wharf start from £385,000.
“Silvertown and the Royal Docks represent some of the last pockets of capital growth for buyers to the east with an average price inflation 1.7 times higher than in the surrounding E16 postcode,” says Jon Hall of Mount Anvil.
Homes are on sale at Mount Anvil’s Royal Docks West, a 19-level tower of 105 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes.
Prices start at £590,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, due to be completed in the autumn.
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