Cash-strapped first-time buyers often overlook shared-ownership homes, believing they are only found as cheap brick boxes on far-flung estates, populated by unglamorous young Londoners banished there by the high prices in all the decent places.
They are wrong, of course, but building well for less is not easy. It is a challenge architects have now seized, with some winning awards for producing schemes that are affordable, imaginative and seriously eco friendly. Low-energy homes, it turns out, are easier to mortgage - and therefore sell - as lenders know that their buyers will have more to spend on repayments if they have less to pay on bills.
August is a good time to look, with some real treasures to be found, and one of the greenest schemes at the moment is Vantage Point in Homerton, east London. It is not even finished yet, but already four of its 11 affordable homes have sold off-plan. The development is due for completion next month, and prices start from £84,700 for a 35 per cent share in a one-bedroom flat, or £157,000 for a 35 per cent share of a three-bedroom flat.
The unique selling point of this development is its splashy green credentials. It has one of the largest "green walls" in Europe, cycle storage, state-of-the-art recycling facilities and a less exciting-sounding but very environmentally chipper central biomass boiler.
The location is also great. Vantage Point is right by Homerton station - so you can be in the City in 15 minutes. Visit Stagnell Fox at stagnellfox.co.uk.
History and grandeur
Other schemes selling rapidly include The Square West 3 in Acton. Affordable usually equals new build but for historic grandeur, affordable homes don't come much more impressive than this refurbishment of a former Ministry of Pensions building, designed in 1922 by the same architect (James G West) who created Whitehall.
A total of 23 shared-ownership homes were launched in January - eight now remain priced from £149,700 for a 60 per cent share in a one-bedroom flat (full market value: £249,500). Visit a2dominion.co.uk/newhomes.
Living by the Thames always attracts a premium, which is perhaps why 81 of the 84 shared-ownership flats at The Artillery in Shooters Hill have sold since its launch a year ago. There are still three one-bedroom flats available from London and Quadrant, priced from £57,000 for a 25 per cent share. Visit lqgroup.org.uk.
The homes sit beside Woolwich Common and the Thames. The nearby Woolwich Ferry makes a City commute comfortable and easy.
Views across the city
From the upper floors of Harrison House in Whitechapel you can survey the City and east London, including the Olympic Park. There are 14 flats still available, all with balconies, with prices from £60,000 for a 25 per cent share in a one-bedroom flat. Contact Stagnell Fox via stagnellfox.co.uk.
And as an early tip-off, next month Stagnell Fox will launch that rarest of affordable beasts - eight penthouse flats - at Aspect on Lea Bridge Road, Walthamstow. The views are of Epping Forest. Prices not yet released.
Leafy suburban style
A more immediate option for those looking for leafy suburban style is Thames Valley Housing's Hurlingham Court at Queen Mary's Place, Roehampton (tvha.co.uk). To date 80 of its 90 shared-ownership flats have sold, but you could still buy a 25 per cent share in a one-bedroom flat from £59,000. Two- and three-bedroom flats are also available.
The block is built within the grounds of the Grade I-listed Roehampton House, close to lovely Richmond Park. You are a mile and a half from Putney station, but a residents' shuttle bus is laid on during rush hour.
If you are a would-be commuter then the Meridian Apartments in Hertfordshire would be a good place to start looking. Half have already been sold off-plan and the development will be ready later this month. You could buy a 50 per cent share in a two-bedroom apartment for £72,500.
Buyers have been wooed by the idea of a village location, close to the market town of Buntingford and with a commute to London of less than an hour. For more information visit agents Stagnell Fox at stagnellfox.co.uk.