First-time buyers are faced with stark choices when trying to get on the property ladder. For most, it boils down to either compromising on a cheaper location in an outer travel zone or squeezing into a tiny flat closer to the centre.
Some are joining forces with friends to make their money go further. Others are taking on second jobs or working overtime to save a bigger deposit, even taking out personal loans to bridge the funding gap.
And yet London still has affordable areas, or at least pockets of decent value, where the arithmetic can work for first-time buyers. But these areas are cheaper for a reason — terrible transport links or the proximity of a rough council or blighted industrial land. However, the chances are that such places will improve as regeneration takes hold. Most buyers are heading east or south, to what are still the cheaper sides of London.
TAKE A TOUR: A LONDON GUIDE FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS
“Our research shows a real shift east through Hackney and Newham and a push south through Lambeth and Lewisham,” says Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International.
Areas falling into favour include Canning Town, Beckton, Barking, Walthamstow and Leyton.
New Festival Quarter shares the same postcode, E14, as Canary Wharf and has one-bedroom flats priced from £399,950. Set across four buildings, the scheme has a private gym, 24-hour concierge and residents’ roof garden. Call Bellway on 0845 459 5020.
The same developer has launched Pembury Circus, 260 homes on the site of a former council estate in Hackney. Prices from £288,950. Call 0845257 6064.
For many years, edgy Canning Town, postcode E16, languished outside the property market. The game changer was the Olympics going to Stratford, which cemented a £3.7 billion regeneration programme. Step out of the Jubilee line station and you will be greeted by the soaring Vermilion development, part of the ambitious 675-home Rathbone Market renewal scheme, comprising a new library, two public squares plus purpose-built facilities for market traders. Prices for two-bedroom flats are from £138,000 (for a 40 per cent share), full price, £345,000. Call 020 7758 8481.
One of the objectives is to connect Canning Town with Canary Wharf, Royal Docks and Silvertown. Nearby Custom House has a DLR station and will be on the Crossrail route when the line opens in 2018.
Orchard Village in Dagenham is being developed by Centra, part of Circle housing association. It is building 516 new homes for rent, shared ownership and private sale.
Green routes through the development link open spaces within and around the site, including a new community square with grids of trees and sculptures of oversize fruits — referencing the site’s former use as a fruit farm. Three-bedroom townhouses with garden, roof terrace and parking space cost from £335,000. Call 0845 223 0000.
SOUTH OF THE RIVER
First-time buyer territory takes in Plumstead, Woolwich, Eltham, Catford, Downham, Penge, Croydon, South Norwood and Merton. Lewisham has excellent rail links into central London, while the DLR provides a 15-minute hop to Canary Wharf. A council-led transformation of the town centre is under way, with hundreds of new flats, plus a new leisure centre, a reconfigured road system and a new bus station and shopping mall.
Riverdale House, an Eighties office building notable for its Modernist architectural style, is being converted into 137 flats and will have a hotel-style entrance foyer and rooftop communal terraces. Running alongside Ravensbourne River, the site includes a Victorian mill with water wheel. Prices from £225,000. Call Galliard on 020 7620 1500.
Woolwich is set to benefit massively from Crossrail in 2018. Mast Quay is an attractive waterfront development, five minutes’ walk from the new station and the town centre. Coming soon is a new phase of 161 apartments priced from £300,000. Call Comer Homes on 020 8361 2424.
Grove Place, a 144-home high street scheme, has two stylish residential blocks overlooking a piazza and gardens, plus each has a hotel-style entrance foyer and secure parking. Prices from £300,000. Call Galliard on 020 3733 3884.