The price gap between the south east and the London is continuing to narrow, finds Knight Frank’s latest report, as economic prosperity and money from London continues to buoy up the market there.
This growth has occurred, says the agent, because of the region’s quality of life, proximity to London and the combination of coast, countryside and growing wealth. ‘In the last four years the price gap between the south east and London’s housing market has slowed,’ says the report. ‘Three years ago £350 – £400 per sq ft was achievable in only a handful of markets in the region. This level is now rapidly becoming the norm, as the South East’s housing market becomes increasingly homogenised in terms of price.’
Disposable incomes are 14% above the national average, according to these figures, while the south east currently ranks 15th out of the European Union’s 86 regional units in terms of economic productivity.
As a result, people looking to move to the area are now looking further afield from Brighton, at towns like Shoreham-by-Sea, Angmering and Littlehampton, where prices are still slightly more accessible.
In terms of future expansion Ashford is unquestionably the town which is going to see highest levels of change, as it has already been named by the Government as one of its priority growth areas to cope with housing demand in the south east. Sevenoaks and Horsham are also named in the report as prime locations for buyers, with prices to match.
But this geographical expansion and growing presence of new build property has had an affect on the area, says Knight Frank: ‘Alongside similarity in terms of price, goes similarity in design,’ observes the report. ‘What started out as a retail phenomenon with identical stores occupying high streets across the country is now being mirrored from a residential angle and the result is a swathe of largely identical schemes which lack the edge in terms of architectural design, but are themselves determined by policy and affordability constraints,’ it says, although the authors do single out Lewes as a town where some developments are more design-led.
As supply is increasingly outstripped by demand, despite a great deal of new building, Knight Frank predicts that the area is going to require a reinforced infrastructure in the future to cope with commuter numbers and an influx of new residents in general, which will then have an effect on house prices: ‘An expanding commuting population will not only place greater pressure on the region’s infrastructure which will require significant investment, but the south east may also be the region most affected by discussions regarding road charging. Greater disparities are also likely to emerge between those towns with good transport links and the region’s more isolated towns with less diverse economies,’ it says.