Think of property as a kind of beauty pageant and, inevitably, Georgian homes end up wearing the tiara. The latest research from Savills suggests that Georgian continues to be the most sought-after style among buyers enchanted by all that symmetry - and all those big windows - produced in the period between 1720 and 1840.
And for the Georgian-obsessed who must buy on a budget, Savills has highlighted three areas with a surprising wealth of character-filled period homes at reasonable prices, all within reasonable commuting distance of the capital.
However, Marcus Dixon, associate director, warns: "Georgian represents a tiny proportion of the UK's housing stock and it is a case of snapping it up. These are houses people fall for. Most go instantly under offer." So where should you look? You could start in East Sussex, not far from Brighton, more popular with Regency lovers, or head to Kent and the historic town of Rochester. Finally, take a look at one of the smallest towns in England, Manningtree in Essex.
Lewes, East Sussex
Journey time: 70 minutes.
Annual season ticket: £3,532.
Average property price: £192,000.
Average price for a family house: £246,000.
Ten-year price growth: 104 per cent.
If Brighton seems too big and touristy, then try Lewes. It is a quiet town with loads of charm, a high street stuffed with antiques and bookshops, pretty cafés and barely a chain store in sight, and just a short hop to the South Downs. Its only state senior school, Priory School, is rated "excellent" by Ofsted.
Much of the property in the town is Georgian, or even older. Robin Smith, manager of Cubitt & West, says the best selection is to be found along the high street and in the Southover area.
Property ranges from two-bedroom cottages, for about £300,000 to £350,000; four-bedroom town houses, for between £450,000 and £500,000; and two-bedroom converted flats for between £240,000 and £250,000. If you have a bigger budget, larger six-to seven-bedroom houses, mostly on the high street, sell for £1 million-plus.
Another option would be the villages around Lewes. Barcombe, Barcombe Mills and Newick have a stock of substantial Georgian family homes, but the best fetch more than £3 million.
Journey time: 36 minutes.
Annual season ticket: £3,324.
Average property price: £164,000.
Average price for a family house: £265,000.
Ten-year price growth: 88 per cent.
There are many points in favour of Rochester, not least its fabulously quick hop into town. This undervalued commuter destination has a charming town centre: architectural highlights include its cathedral and Norman castle as well as Restoration House on Crow Lane - Dickens's model for Miss Havisham's crumbling mansion in Great Expectations.
Moving to the 21st century, modern living beckons in the form of the (currently delayed) Rochester Riverside regeneration scheme, a 70-acre site with plans for 2,000 new homes, shops, cafés and two hotels.
On a smaller scale, the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust is in the process of restoring Minor Canon Row, a fine Georgian terrace in the town centre. Only two properties are still being worked on, and all will go on the market this spring - prices are unconfirmed, but unrestored the family-size town houses were selling for about £350,000. Visit jackson-stops.com for more details. Joe Jenkins of Your Move says that the town's Georgian heartland is in the streets directly off the high street, and comes mainly in the form of town houses. A two- to three-bedroom house would cost from about £300,000, while a three- to four-bedroom terrace would start at about £400,000.
A major draw for this Medway town is its schooling: King's School, St Andrews, Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical (boys) and the Rochester Grammar School are all popular with parents.
Rochester is also blessed with a good selection of bars and restaurants: Tony Lorenzo does great coffee, Elizabeth's of Eastgate is a popular French/European restaurant and The George Vaults, a bar and restaurant dating from the 12th century, is spectacular. Perhaps the only downside is the lack of shopping facilities in town; locals tend to head to nearby Strood or Chatham.
Journey time: 58 minutes.
Annual season ticket: £4,600.
Average property price: £249,000.
Average price for a family house: £341,000.
Ten-year price growth: 102 per cent.
Reputed to be the smallest town in England, Manningtree nonetheless has its own station and a pretty centre dominated by some fine Georgian buildings (Manningtree library has a particularly striking classical façade). The high street is well-stocked with independent shops and restaurants - people travel from far and wide for an award-winning pizza from Lucca - and the town stands on the eastern tip of Dedham Vale, an area of outstanding natural beauty and a great place for walks. Manningtree High School is judged "good" with some "outstanding" features by the schools' watchdog, Ofsted.
John Anderson, principal of Anderson & Co estate agents, says the main Georgian clusters are close to the heart of town. The best places to look are at the eastern end of the high street and in nearby South Street.
A four-bedroom end-of-terrace house would cost between £500,000 and £600,000 in these streets, above average for the town but still cheaper than a suburban semi on the outskirts of London, while you could pick up a three-bedroom cottage for £250,000.