Deposits tend to be the stumbling block for most first-time buyers who are struggling to get on the property ladder.
Typically London buyers need to put down £81,000 once they have secured their maximum mortgage. Now developers are stepping in to help bridge the gap between the full purchase price and the amount buyers can afford to pay.
Barratt has launched a scheme called Head Start, which enables buyers to move in with a five per cent deposit yet have 100 per cent ownership of the property.
In relatively cheap areas such as Hither Green, south London, homes at a development called Prime are priced from a tantalisingly low £99,950 for a studio.
Hither Green has seen relatively little new development but has a plentiful supply of affordable Victorian terraces, many split into flats, and benefits from fast train links (13 minutes) to London Bridge, making it popular for young buyers and renters.
Get into the zone
Neighbouring Lewisham has more choice of new homes, with town centre regeneration finally under way. At Silkworks, an eye-catching scheme next to the train and DLR stations, well-designed studios with good-quality finishes cost £160,000.
This is far cheaper than studios in the Canary Wharf area, only four stops away on the DLR. Investment buyers are waking up to this fact. A Silkworks flat would rent for at least £700 a month - a good return for the outlay. Call St James Urban Living on 020 8469 0077.
Head Start provides a 15 per cent interest-free loan over 10 years and is available at Great West Quarter (GWQ), Brentford, and Arena, Hayes. Great West Quarter is a redevelopment of the Art Deco former headquarters of BOAC, then later GlaxoSmithKline, on Great West Road.
The 13-acre estate includes listed Wallis House, converted into 111 apartments, and a series of new-build blocks overlooking a central piazza where there will be shops, bars, cafés, an art gallery, a GP surgery and a crèche. There are also plans for a 25-storey Skylon tower incorporating a hotel on the lower floors and flats above. Beneath the development is a giant underground parking area with space for more than 1,000 cars.
A local bus route (No 235) will terminate at the development and there will be a taxi rank for licensed black cabs. Barratt, the developer, has relocated its London base to new offices on site. Flexible workspace for small businesses is also envisaged.
Brentford remains a rather forlorn place in spite of piecemeal regeneration of the last 10 years. Lying on the more affluent west side of London and having both Thames and canal frontage plus fast road links to Heathrow and beyond, it has potential.
All in all, GWQ should provide a much-needed hub for the area. Prices start at £235,000. Call 020 8326 7277. Apartments and houses with integral garages are for sale at Arena, Hayes. Prices from £175,000. Call 020 8561 4503.
Grand Union Village, Northolt, is one of west London's biggest regeneration schemes - an eco-friendly settlement of 850 homes on 54 acres of once-derelict canalside land. It has community facilities, shuttle buses and "home zones" - car-free areas where children can play safely. A new phase of homes, due next year, will include shared-ownership flats through housing associations. Call 020 8236 3800 or visit taylorwimpeyplc.