Your search for an affordable home in London should start on Saturday at the Oval cricket ground. The south London venue is hosting the Affordable Homes Show, organised by FirstSteps, the official gateway for affordable homes in the capital, offering hundreds of properties for rent, shared ownership opportunities and homes for outright purchase from the city’s leading housing associations and private developers.
The show is focusing on south-of-the-river properties. All first-time buyers, not just key workers, earning up to £64,300 a year, are eligible for one or two-bedroom homes, and the income limit has been increased to £77,200 for families who want to buy or rent a property with three or more bedrooms.
Typically, applicants must have at least £4,000 in savings to cover the cost of buying a home. This amount is in addition to the minimum five to 10 per cent required by a mortgage lender.
Thousands of homes are listed on the FirstSteps website and new developments are added regularly. It offers a simple registration and search service, allowing people to pinpoint all available affordable homes on a borough-by-borough basis. Some properties are available “off-plan”, usually several months before they are complete, allowing buyers to organise their move.
Saturday’s show is an opportunity to talk face-to-face with housing providers and get details of state-supported low-cost home ownership schemes such as the First Buy initiative, where the government underwrites 20 per cent of the purchase price, allowing borrowers to proceed with a small deposit. Solicitors and mortgage advisers specialising in the shared-ownership sector will be on hand too.
SE postcodes are among the cheapest in the capital, and this includes some buzzing districts in travel zone two, a short hop from the main employment hubs of the West End, the City and Canary Wharf.
Well-connected riverside districts such as Bermondsey are affordable too under part-buy, part-rent schemes, and in some areas prices are low enough for people to buy outright.
South-east London stretches from Woolwich, via Lewisham, Dulwich and Herne Hill, to Camberwell and Kennington. Beyond the snaking South Circular road are leafy inner suburbs such as Earlsfield, South Norwood and Sydenham, where homes are relatively cheap too. South-west London embraces Clapham, Putney, Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Richmond and Teddington.
South London in general is swinging steadily into fashion as more people discover its good-value homes and fast train connections to the West End and the City.
The River Thames is less of a dividing line because today’s young Londoners have to be open-minded about where to live. The capital’s new orbital train route has also helped improve north-south and east routes across London.
Hither Green is a south London district emerging from the shadows. Cheap, on the up and only 12 minutes by train to London Bridge, the area is finally being noticed by West End and City workers and those following the DLR down from the Isle of Dogs.
Quick rail connections are the key to this low-profile area’s rise. During the peak morning period, up to nine trains an hour leave for central London, while the night train from Charing Cross departs at 1am, a boon for stop-outs and clubbers.
The railway slices the area in two, with the northern half towards Lee and Blackheath being a little more expensive than the Catford and Lewisham side. With no obvious village centre, gentrification was slow to arrive — but is now happening, with a commercial hub of independent shops and cafés forming around Station Parade and Staplehurst Road.
Right here, a former biscuit factory has been turned into Cinnamon Quarter, where shared-ownership flats are for sale. Two-bedroom homes are priced from £247,950, or £86,783 for a 35 per cent share. Call Family Mosaic on 020 7089 1315.
Flats in converted Victorian houses cost less than £200,000, meaning full ownership is within the grasp of first-time buyers. “Hither Green has been a revelation. I thought it would be impossible to buy a home outright and still live so close to central London,” says Amy Perry, a legal secretary who works in the City.
She moved to Hither Green three years ago and, having seen her neighbourhood improve, wants to put down roots in the area by trading up to bigger home. Her one-bedroom flat on Radford Road is on the market for £180,000 through Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward. Call 020 3280 3540.
Shared ownership flats at smart riverside developments are being showcased at the Oval exhibition. Battersea Reach has a series of dramatically-designed apartment blocks looming over the Thames. One-bedroom flats start at £90,000 for a 30 per cent share (full price, £300,000). Call Notting Hill Housing Association on 020 8357 4444.
Another exhibition on October 13 will cover east London. This will take place at the Hilton, Canary Wharf. To register for either show, visit affordablehomesshow.co.uk.