Arabella Youens asks the agents for their top recommendations, from first-time buyers to long-term investors, of where to buy in London in the coming year.
All agents agree that the market in London this year is one of the hardest to forecast because of the uncertainty caused by the General Election in May. Mark Pollack of Aston Chase sums up most people’s feelings: ‘The market is likely to be spongy in the first quarter of 2015, with sporadic activity from those who are highly motivated to buy or sell. However, most of the market will bide their time and see how the cards are dealt.’ In the meantime, we look at different areas to think about while the dust from the election settles.
What? Two-bedroom flat for a flatshare with friend; budget of £500,000
Where? Kilburn, Finsbury Park, Hackney, Peckham
Why? Lucian Cook of Savills Research highlights Kilburn in north-west London and Finsbury Park in north London as two areas where under-35 year olds of high socio-economic groups are tending to cluster right now. ‘This group of buyers tends to be a bit more adventurous and will seek out real emerging areas—the average house price in Kilburn right now is £475,000.’
James Hyman of Cluttons agrees that buyers need to be flexible on their preferred location: ‘This will increase their chances of securing value for money and for their property’s value to exceed average growth levels over a three-year period, enabling them to move up the ladder quickly.’ He recommends looking in Hackney and Peckham, which are still ‘relatively affordable’.
Couples with young children
What? Three/four-bedroom house, with garden and near good schools; budget £1 million
Where? Blackheath, East Dulwich, Southfields, Ealing
Why? ‘All these areas have decent family housing stock without needing to pay the prices of “Nappy Valley” [Clapham],’ believes Mr Cook. ‘Of all of them, I think Ealing is the shoo-in: it’s a classic emerging prime area and will benefit from Crossrail—Ealing Common is the new Balham.’ Blackheath has, according to Mr Hyman, ‘all the family-friendly infrastructure of Clapham and Battersea, but is 30%–40% cheaper’.
Jonathan Loney of John D. Wood in Southfields sees many young families moving from Fulham and Battersea into his patch in search for a larger house with a good-sized garden, ‘plus the schools are a major draw’.
The same budget will buy a house on the increasingly popular Friern Road and Upland Road in East Dulwich, one of the prettiest of the more affordable south-east London villages that makes for an easy commute into London Bridge, recommends Oliver Burgess of Winkworth in Dulwich.
Retiring to London
What? Three-bedroom lateral apartment, close to amenities and the town centre; budget £2 million Where? Battersea, Bloomsbury, Highgate
Why? Howard Elston of Aylesford International says that Battersea is 10 minutes’ walk from Chelsea and has great open spaces. ‘Yes, the arrival of the American Embassy has created a stir, but that’s not the only reason why buyers have woken up to an under-priced location—even the international community has now moved south.’
Alex Oppenheim of John D. Wood agrees: ‘I would recommend the mansion blocks on Prince of Wales Drive and Albert Bridge Road, which provide views over the park and lateral space with substantial reception rooms for entertaining.’ Expect to pay in the region of £2 million for an apartment in excess of 1,5000sq ft on a good floor.
‘And although Bloomsbury isn’t stacked with value, it has an enviable location for access to the West End and a lively character and identity of its own,’ adds Mr Cook. Buyers bringing beloved four-legged friends back to London with them should look in the north London village of Highgate, which is close to Hampstead Heath.
What? Buy-to-let flat
Where? Camberwell, Acton
Why? Dominic Agace, CEO of Winkworth, recommends looking in areas that have a high percentage of young residents, which will equate to strong rental demand for properties. ‘In terms of buy-to-lets, we expect areas such as Camberwell in Southwark and Acton, on the borders of Hammersmith and Ealing, to see an increase in demand from young professionals. Both boroughs already have young populations and good transport into central London—Acton will particularly benefit from Crossrail once it opens.’