Vibrant and comparatively low-priced, London's East End heartland remains a popular hunting ground for first-time buyers. Away from the gleaming towers of Canary Wharf, the arty lofts of Hoxton and gentrified pockets around Victoria Park and De Beauvoir Town, homes are still affordable enough to keep the property dreams of young Londoners alive, especially with shared-ownership options lowering the entry price.
New homes are sprouting up in Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Haggerston, Stepney, Mile End and Bow - all rough-and-tumble inner-city areas but cool and colourful, too.
While the East London line extension through Hackney has caused big property ripples, with new hubs forming around the four new stations, a much older transport artery - the canal system - is also a regeneration catalyst. Canalside locations tend to be a little raw because of the industrial legacy, but have the potential to become convivial, eco-friendly addresses - calming, car-free havens.
Kingsland Basin, off Regent's Canal and close to all the Shoreditch and Dalston action, is a hidden gem being turned into a smart new waterside community. London & Quadrant housing association is building 207 new homes, a health centre, shops and offices.
The £65 million redevelopment includes the restoration of two listed stable buildings, which will become studios and workshops for small businesses. The canal is being opened up for recreational use, and eco-zones on the edges of the basin are to be planted with native species to attract birds and other wildlife.
The first homes have been released for sale off-plan, with move-in dates scheduled for next spring. One-bedroom flats are priced from £265,000. Apartment blocks are a modern architectural take on traditional wharves and warehouses, and many homes have generously sized terraces and glass-fronted balconies. Shared-ownership options will be available in later phases. Call 0844 406 9299 or visit kingslandwharves.co.uk.
Also, L&Q is bulldozing the Haggerston West and Kingsland council estates, which face each other on opposite sides of Regent's Canal. The number of homes will be almost doubled to 761. To register, visit lqgroup.org.uk.
City Road Basin on the Hackney-Islington border is another regeneration zone set to become a smart new residential quarter. More than 800 homes are being built around the nine-acre expanse of water. Reflections, a 14-storey tower, is the first building - 50 apartments, available on a shared-ownership basis. Prices start at £94,000 for the minimum 35 per cent share (full price, £270,000). Family Mosaic housing association is also selling homes at Wilton Way, behind historic Hackney Empire. Prices from £87,000 for a 25 per cent share. At nearby Wisteria Apartments, prices start at £83,475 for a 35 per cent share. Call 020 7089 3913.
Get in before take-off
Buying into an up-and-coming neighbourhood before it really takes off is one of the best ways for first-timers to make headway in the property market. East Ham has mainly Victorian and Edwardian terraces but is now being touched by regeneration rippling out from the Olympic Park in Stratford.
Oberon Court is the capital's most energy-conscious housing development yet, scoring almost top marks on a green housing standard that grades properties on a scale of one to six (six is the highest).
Super-insulated and triple-glazed, the 33 apartments are virtually airtight, greatly reducing heat loss. Solar roof panels generate electricity for the communal areas, resulting in lower service charges. Apartments use an EcoPlay system that recycles bath and shower water for toilet flushing, lowering metered water charges. The homes are for private sale and shared ownership. Prices from £160,000. Contact L&Q on 0844 4069800.
Vermilion is the first phase of an ambitious £3.7 billion, 10,000-home regeneration project at Canning Town, located between Canary Wharf and Stratford. Much is being made of its "sustainable" architecture, which includes green (planted) walls and roofs that drain rainwater into a hi-tech watering system feeding fountains and communal eco gardens, and encouraging habitats for bird species that nest around the River Lea and the Thames. The 21-storey tower will have 271 apartments, available before next year's Olympics. Prices from £180,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 7758 8481 or visit vermilionlondon.co.uk to register interest.
Bow is another regeneration hotspot, with some handsome conservation areas and green spaces alongside dramatic new builds. Melody Apartments is one of the smaller new developments. Homes are set around a landscaped courtyard, and residents can make use of a communal roof garden. Prices from £48,000 for a 30 per cent share. Contact Swan housing association on 0800 389 6382.
The Terrace, off Dalston Lane, has 34 apartments, with shared-ownership prices from £210,000 (minimum share is 40 per cent). Call Notting Hill Housing Group (020 8357 4444).
Most of the affordable homes coming to east London will be in Stratford. The athletes village alone will have 2,800 homes (townhouses as well as apartments).
These will be released after the Olympics because the "dormitory-style" interiors have to be converted. To register, visit triathlonhomes.com.
Whitechapel is the cheapest travel Zone 1 address. Its property market is still in a fairly new phase, and locals remain sceptical of developers' moves to gentrify these parts.
Though the area has run-down pockets of poverty, it is also buzzy and arty. Aldgate Place, a shiny new office complex, has brought a bit of corporate affluence to the area, and private new apartments are going up in side streets.
SpacE1 is a bright new scheme of 214 apartments on Christian Street. Prices from £199,450. Call Bellway Homes on 0845 257 6063.