Target your London home search: it's time to think in rings, not grids

In our new four-part series we help you to target your home search by slicing through London's property market - starting with the historic wards at its centre.
London, so sprawling a city and of such infinite variety, can be overwhelming for the home buyer. As they try to choose the spot that will best suit their means and lifestyle, people traditionally split the city into north, south, east and west - but there may be a better way to view your choices.

Homes & Property has commissioned exclusive research from Savills based on the Tube map, dividing the capital into rings with central London as the bull’s-eye. In a four-part series we will work from the inside out, starting with the historic wards of the centre and working through the inner and outer suburbs, and beyond.

The most expensive parts of the city, within the prime streets of central west London, are beyond most people’s pockets. Prices in the Knightsbridge and Belgravia ward of Westminster, which lie around the Royal Albert Hall, have more than doubled in five years to an average £4,551,939. The second most expensive ward is Norland, the tract just north of Holland Park Avenue, where homes cost an average £2,440,205, up 20 per cent in the period.

Soho the upstart
The title of most up-and-coming ward goes to a relative upstart, West End, which covers the Mayfair and the Soho streets north of Piccadilly. Prices there have grown by 113 per cent in five years  to an average £2,173,142. As the  transition continues from commercial to living spaces, new homes that include some stunning lateral flats  are appearing, convenient for Soho’s fashionable restaurants and bars. The central location and the imminent arrival of Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road are driving this trend, as is the area’s relative value for money.
Charles Lloyd, a director of Savills, said: “Soho has always been popular with certain buyers, people who want a fun, edgy feel. It attracts the bohemian, arty and media-driven, and has always been undervalued compared to Mayfair, by up to 50 per cent. Even so, the flats in new developments in Soho cost up to £2,000 a square foot - compared with £4,000 in Mayfair.”

Crossrail is key
Another central ward enjoying major price rises is Farringdon Without, the easternmost section of the City of London, just south-west of Farringdon station, where the average of £675,957 reflects a 103 per cent increase. 

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£1,395,000: the price of a two-bedroom penthouse flat in Farringdon
Again, Crossrail has been a powerful game changer. When the line is operational from Farringdon in 2018 the whole area will have direct links to the City, West End and Heathrow airport. A recent report by property consultants Jones Lang LaSalle forecast price rises of 41 per cent across Farringdon, thanks to Crossrail, by 2018.

Ben Babington, residential development director at estate agents Jackson-Stops & Staff, says buyers are flocking to the area - and indeed, to the whole City. Homes in new developments are proving a hit with everyone from financial workers to downsizers who want to swap a country house for a City pad. A new-build, two-bedroom flat in the area will cost between £1.2 million and £1.5 million - hardly chicken feed, but far cheaper than central west London. 

Picking Peckham
If, however, you want central London for less, the only way is south-east. In the Peckham ward of Southwark, between Peckham Road and Burgess Park, the average property costs £245,205, up 16 per cent in five years.
South Bermondsey, also in Southwark, is priced at just a shade over the stamp duty threshold, at £251,841, up 15 per cent. Peckham hasn’t yet benefited from the kind of gentrification seen in Peckham Rye and around Camberwell Grove, both of which are nearer fashionable East Dulwich and enjoy the ripple effect of its cool shops and bars.
“Peckham ward is not yet at all gentrified, but you can get a really nice three-bedroom Victorian terrace house there for between £600,000 and £700,000,” says Luke Bishop, sales manager at Wooster & Stock. Two-bedroom Victorian conversion flats, popular with first-time buyers, can be had locally for about £400,000, a bargain for an area within walking distance of Elephant & Castle in Zone 1, while Burgess Park recently had an £8 million facelift.

“Five or 10 years ago this area was a bit of a no-go zone,” adds Bishop. “But I think it’s just getting to the point when people are happy to move here.”
Price growth is not rapid but worth waiting for.

One to watch
Lucian Cook, director of residential research at Savills, says overseas buyers have distorted the market. “The most expensive wards have seen an inflow of overseas cash over the last five years. The less expensive wards are far more dependent on local buyers - particularly on those who depend on mortgage finance, at a time when  mortgage finance is tight.” 

An exception is Faraday in Southwark, between Elephant & Castle and the western edge of Burgess Park, where prices are up 41 per cent to an average £303,513. Elephant & Castle regeneration has brought the area to the cusp of gentrification, says Bishop. It is starting to attract young families priced out of Dulwich or Brixton. “Prices are really low for central London.”

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