31 July 2019, The Times
These days you would probably need to win the men’s singles final to afford a family home in Wimbledon Village, with average property prices in the most desirable part of SW19 at more than £1.59 million, according to research by the online estate agency HouseSimple.com.
Unsurprising then that families, particularly young couples looking to upsize from small flats, are turning away from what are London’s traditional villages to new ones with farmers’ markets, independent shops, green spaces and, most importantly, period properties at reasonable prices.
“London’s affordability issues are well documented and second-steppers, in particular, are looking further afield from central London in search of greater value for their second purchases,” says Nick Whitten, the residential research associate director at JLL. “This trend for migrating out will ultimately lead to stronger price growth in these areas of London. This is reflected in JLL’s forecasts for 24 per cent price growth in greater London in the five years between 2016 and 2020, compared with 9 per cent in central London over the same period.”
The trend can be traced to the UK’s other major cities too, where sky-high house prices in some of the most desirable villages, say Clifton in Bristol, are pushing families to buy in new areas such as trendy St Werburghs, with its own city farm, while new developments are creating pockets of urban village life in the main Scottish cities.
Such is the appetite for period family homes in pretty Walthamstow village, 20 minutes from Oxford Circus on the soon-to-be 24-hour Victoria Tube line, that buyers are still viewing houses at open days — something that is now rare for London, according to Jamie Burnhope, a buying consultant at Black Brick. Walthamstow is a large area in east London, but the village is tiny and highly sought-after so, provided homes are priced well, they are fought over — particularly those priced below £800,000.
Jazmin Atkins, of the buying agency Prime Purchase, agrees. “Those who can’t afford Islington have turned their attention to Walthamstow, which is still a relatively central location. Prices have done well on Church Road, where homes that were priced at £400 a square foot five years ago are now tipping £1,000 a square foot.”
Savills predicts that over the next few years the two highest-growth areas of London will be Waltham Forest and Lewisham. Waltham Forest property prices are expected to grow by 20 per cent by 2021 and there are still many three and four-bedroom houses on the market for less than £700,000, another rarity for London.
And so to Lewisham, in particular Brockley, only 17 minutes on the Overground to Shoreditch High Street, and a new hub for arty sorts who work in northeast London but cannot afford to live there, as well as creative graduates from Goldsmiths and Camberwell College of Arts. It is increasingly attracting City workers, too, who are upgrading smaller flats for period houses and commuting to London Bridge in less than ten minutes.
On Saturdays Brockley has its award-winning farmers’ market, selling locally sourced rainbow chard and sourdough pizzas. The Gantry and the Orchard serve gastropub fare while Browns and Broca offer a caffeine fix. Period terraced houses average £604,809, according to Rightmove, with prices up by 38 per cent since 2013.
“Crossrail has overhauled London’s villages since its route was announced in 2008, transforming once overlooked pockets of suburbia into sought-after capital-growth opportunities,” says Rosie Nesbitt, of Fabrica, the developer. That includes West Ealing, which has just acquired a Waitrose. There’s been a big investment in the high street and a series of gastro pubs, including The Walpole, a favourite with the celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, but prices remain below the London average at £435,000. “Data from Hamptons shows that in the past five years the average house price for a property located 500m from West Ealing station has increased 50 per cent,” Nesbitt says. “There is still scope for capital growth for investors and first-time buyers who are otherwise priced out of zones one and two.”
All eyes are on this still slightly edgy area east of Stratford and the Olympic Park — the future home of the new V&A and Sadler’s Wells — where there will be a Crossrail station. House prices have “rocketed” by more than 65 per cent since work began on the line in 2009, according to Rashad Cheema, of the Spencers estate agency.
You’ll find elegant Victorian properties on the edge of Wanstead flats in the area known as “the village” and “gentrification is now in full force”, Cheema says, “with trendy eateries opening and foodies moving in. I believe prices will continue to rise as more people discover what a fantastic and well-connected area it is to live [in].”
There is much excitement on the @ForestGreat Twitter feed that chi chi butcher The Ginger Pig is arriving on neighbouring Wanstead High Street this summer.
On the Thames and not far from Richmond — but much cheaper, with four-bedroom properties going for an average £740,000 — Isleworth has two main areas, Old Isleworth and Spring Grove, flanked by the National Trust estates of Syon Park and Osterley Park. “Much of the housing stock is from the Victorian and Edwardian eras following a building boom in the 18th and 19th centuries for wealthy families attracted to the area’s rural waterside location,” says Whitten.
Whitten believes the area is one of London’s best up-and-coming spots for young families. “The area enjoys a village feel, particularly centred around The London Apprentice pub, which regularly holds community events in its grounds by the river,” he says. You can get to Waterloo in 36 minutes.
Kings Heath, Birmingham
There’s a buzz about Kings Heath and Birmingham, which is attracting young professionals because of its regeneration and job creation. Next to fashionable and bohemian Moseley, but much more affordable, Kings Heath is five miles south of the city centre. Mark Heath, of the Connells estate agency, says it has a great community spirit as well as a bustling high street with lots of pubs, bars, restaurants, plus good schools and plenty of green spaces. “We’re receiving a lot of interest from potential buyers into the area — a mix of investors, first-time buyers and those looking to relocate somewhere that has a good mix of properties and amenities,” Heath says. “In fact, we’re getting several calls a day from Londoners wanting to relocate.”
The most sought-after homes are inthe terraces off the main high street, where a two-bedroom house costs between £180,000 and £230,000; a four-bedroom house is from £260,000 to £320,000.
This leafy south Manchester suburb was this week named the most desirable place for young professionals to buy outside London and the southeast.
It has become a particular magnet for commuters, according to Lloyds Bank, because of a new tramline, proximity to the city centre and a high number of lauded local businesses.
Rob Sumner, of Savills in Manchester, says Didsbury has a selection of housing stock and a vibrant village centre with interior-design shops and award-winning restaurants. Johnny Morris, the research director at Countrywide, says: “The best streets effectively have waiting lists, with buyers willing to pay 5 to 10 per cent over the asking price.” House prices average £266,105, according to Lloyds.
In an unprecedented sale, an ex-council house recently sold for £200,000 in Horsforth, Leeds. Horsforth is one of the city’s best urban villages, alongside popular Chapel Allerton and Meanwood, says James Pank, the director and property auctioneer of Auction House West Yorkshire. Horsforth was brought into the city of Leeds in the 1970s. Three main streets have independent shops, grocers, fishmongers and cafés, and an annual beer and cider festival. There are some of the best schools in Leeds here and it is close to a train station with services into the city centre. “It’s been rapidly gaining in popularity with families over the past three years,” Pank says. “You can still just about get an affordable family home, but prices are rising quickly.” An average three-bedroom semi would cost about £250,000 with a larger detached property from £350,000.
Bishopston and St Andrews, Bristol
These two areas, with their “village atmosphere”, are becoming popular, according to Rupert Oliver, of the estate agency Fine & Country in Bristol. He says families from the wider Bristol area, and those relocating to the city, are drawn by the excellent primary schools. Gloucester Road, which has its own website, binds the areas. “The properties are predominantly three or four-bedroom family terrace houses and fall into the £450,000 to £750,000 price range,” Oliver says. “It is a demographic group and a price range that is booming in Bristol right now. Because of the price surge, many are forced to look outside at areas such as St Werburghs, with its city farm, St Pauls and Montpelier.”
Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Most plots set within Glasgow’s ever-popular West End have already been bought and built on — but that has not deterred canny developers from breathing new life into disused sites around the city’s 27-acre Botanic Gardens. One such project occupies the site of the former BBC studios, neighbouring the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed North Park House and Queen Margaret College.
A total of 94 contemporary properties are planned at The Botanics development, a prime position for all the area has to offer, such as the vast Victorian Kibble Palace greenhouse, which hosts weekly art and design fairs with local traders.
This pocket of Glasgow is popular with young professionals not quite ready to take the plunge and move into affluent Hyndland or Dowanhill.
Close to the Botanic Gardens are the two-storey townhouses of Botanic Crescent, where it is possible to buy a property with outside space relatively easily. Quality sandstone homes are also plentiful in Kirklee Terrace, where you can expect to pay from £210,000 for a two-bedroom flat.
Cramond, a village to the west of Edinburgh, benefits from a beach, three golf courses on its fringes and rows of historic fisherman’s cottages — as well as being less than a 30-minute drive from the city centre.
It is known as a popular spot for sand-seeking daytrippers, but it is also imbued with a sense of community spirit not enjoyed by many similar Scottish seaside spots. Househunters priced out of East Lothian and upmarket parts of Edinburgh’s New Town are turning to Cramond for period homes at competitive rates. Average house prices compare favourably with many neighbouring towns — £324,623 compared with the East Lothian seaside towns of North Berwick, at £391,535, and Gullane, at £388,864. The Cramond Inn is a popular haunt after exploring the village’s island, accessible at low tide, and there is a good local coffee shop.
Dundee Waterfront and south
There’s more to Dundee’s waterfront regeneration than the new V&A Museum of Design. Part of the city’s £1 billion overhaul will include 202 luxury south-facing flats positioned a few minutes’ walk from Dundee railway station. Crucially, a new pedestrian bridge is also planned, linking the hub with the shops, bars and restaurants of the city. This connection opens up a part of Dundee formerly seen as more student-orientated to a new demographic of buyers who are keen to purchase traditional properties within walking distance of the proposed marina and leisure facilities.
In the west of Dundee, affordable two or three-bedroom homes in places such as Dock Street and West Victoria Dock road are garnering interest. Expect to pay between £200,000 and £250,000.
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