Balham for first-time buyers:flats from £100k in a cool, connected south London property hotspot

Shared-ownership homes at Aura House, a new boutique development in Balham High Road, are a rare find in this cool, connected south London property hotspot.

Balham, with its cool cafés and bars, great commuter links, acres of green space and top sports facilities, has emerged as a south London property hotspot over the past decade. Average SW12 prices nudging towards £800,000 have made it no-go for most first-time buyers.

But now Viridian Housing association is offering one-, two- and three-bedroom shared-ownership flats at Aura House, a new boutique development in Balham High Road. The homes are aimed at middle-income first-time buyers and start at just under £100,000.

“Balham is a really vibrant place,” says James MacPhail, senior sales and marketing executive at Viridian. “People priced out of Clapham have moved up the Northern line to Balham, so there are some very good new restaurants and loads of coffee shops. I wouldn’t call it up and coming any more. It is an established area, and it is unusual to find shared ownership here.”

Aura House homes are priced from £98,750 for a 25 per cent share in a one-bedroom flat. Owners will also need to budget £370 per month in rent for the portion of the property they don’t own, and pay a monthly £140 service charge, bringing costs to just over £1,000 a month.

Two-bedroom flats start at £140,000, again for 25 per cent. Once £525 rent and £140 service charge are included, the monthly cost will be £1,410. Three-bedroom flats start at £167,500 for a quarter share. Rent comes in at £628 a month, and the service charge is again £140, bringing monthly costs to £1,659.

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From £98,750: for a quarter share of a one-bedroom flat at Aura House, a new boutique scheme in Balham High Road

GREAT LINKS, GOOD PUBS

While these prices are far lower than buying on the open market, MacPhail agrees that over the past few years there has been a “sea change” in what shared ownership really means.

“It has traditionally been seen as low-cost housing and a stepping stone on to the property ladder for people on low incomes, but I am afraid that as prices have gone up in London it has moved beyond that now. We now prefer the term ‘affordable housing’, because they are more affordable than homes in the private market, which means people can stay in Balham.”

Aura House will be completed in late summer, and first priority will go to people who live and work in Wandsworth already, although applications from all Londoners will be considered. The nearest Tube station is Clapham South, with Northern line services to the City and the West End.

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Landmarks: Du Cane Court, Art Deco flats in the High Road (Rex)

Nearby Balham railway station has trains to Victoria in under 15 minutes but it’s in Zone 3, so the fast commute will cost more than a journey by Tube.

Balham is developing a good range of independent shops alongside the pound stores, high street chains and estate agents. Hildreth Street Market is small but has a Borough Market-style vibe. The neighbourhood is also very much on south-west London’s gastropub circuit, and there is live music and comedy at The Bedford.

You can blow away the morning-after cobwebs at Balham Leisure Centre’s pool, or join one of the local football, rugby, netball or running clubs.


 

THE KNOWLEDGE: BALHAM

Past: towards the end of the Battle of Britain in 1940, a German bomb fractured gas and water mains in Balham High Road, flooding the Underground station and killing 68 people. The tragedy features in Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement.

Future: there is the possibility of a new high-speed rail link to central London in the form of Crossrail 2, which will inevitably boost local house prices.

Trivial pursuit: Balham had the UK’s first diagonal crossing, at the junction of the High Road with Station Road and Chestnut Grove. The idea was later adopted at Oxford Circus.

What homes cost: an average house in SW12 costs just over £777,000 according to Rightmove, while an average flat costs £590,000.

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First-time buy: get more bang for your buck in neighbouring Streatham Hill, where Haart has a two-bedroom apartment in a low-rise block for sale at £350,000

Eat: fillet o’fish sarnie with the hipsters at Milk café in Bedford Road.

Drink: wake yourself up with an Espresso Martini at The Exhibit cinema, diner and bar, where you can also watch a film, see an exhibition or learn to make cocktails.

Shop: find covetable vintage and antique homewares at No9 Antiques in Hildreth Street.

Walk: Clapham and Wandsworth Commons are just up the road.


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