Location, location, location was once the mantra for home buyers but for today’s young Londoners, price tops everything else with transport coming second — only because transport allows them to hunt in cheaper areas. A new survey today reveals London’s top 40 first-time buyer hotspots.
WALTHAMSTOW’S THE ONE THEY WANT
Rapidly regenerating Walthamstow Central, where an average flat costs a below-average £334,086, represents excellent value considering its Zone 3 location — and it’s the number one choice for first-time flat buyers.
Six out of 10 properties in the E17 postcode are now sold to first timers. In second place is Sutton, where average prices of £265,000 for a starter flat are encouraging buyers to overlook its location on the borders of Surrey.
First-time buyers wanting a family home are travelling north of Walthamstow to Tottenham, another focus of regeneration. They are snapping up four out of 10 houses at an average price of just over £446,000, attracted by the area’s mix of period and new homes and good transport links.
Today’s research, by Hamptons International, proves the single most important factor for the average first-time buyer is price. Almost half of the top 20 locations for flat buyers have, like Walthamstow, an average price of £350,000 or less. Alongside Tottenham, popular locations are South Norwood near Croydon, Stratford, and Belmont on the fringes of Surrey.
Buyers are prepared to make a long commute to get on to the property ladder. Indeed, the best-value locations on the list all teeter on the edge of the home counties. They are Hayes, with an average flat price of £244,758, Ilford (£227,635), and Croydon (£261,741).
Their average property prices are £406,000, £456,000 and £767,000 respectively. Interest in these areas, which have remained until now largely undiscovered, is pushing up prices.
The research shows that prices in the last year have surged by 10 per cent in six of the top 20 locations for house buyers: South Norwood, Barking, East Ham, Northolt, Gants Hill and Sydenham, the latter having been boosted by the Overground service.
FUTURE-PROOFING IN TOTTENHAM
Sean Downey, director of Cousins estate agents in Tottenham, says 60 to 70 per cent of his buyers are first-timers. “It used to be landlord central around here, but now they have been priced out by 20 and 30 year-olds with financial help from their parents.
They look at the prices and see they can buy a house in Tottenham for the price of a flat in Hackney. Bluntly there is not a lot for them to do in the area. There are no trendy little bars on the Seven Sisters Road — but they are surely coming.”
His buyers are thinking ahead, hoping to future-proof their lives by getting a family-size home from the off, saving themselves the huge cost of having to move again from a flat to a house.
Meanwhile, over in South Norwood, Lee Edwards, director of Benson & Partners, has seen a flow of buyers who have calculated that a Victorian or a Thirties property in SE25 costs between 25 and 50 per cent less than a similar property in Crystal Palace — they just have to be prepared to trek a couple of miles down the road. “We are a little backwater, undiscovered,” says Edwards.
SOUTH NORWOOD IS ON THE UP
As well as value, South Norwood has excellent train links in its favour. Services to London Bridge take 17 minutes, and you can be in Victoria in 24 minutes from Norwood Junction station.
There is also a great country park. But the South Norwood Tourist Board, run by devoted local residents with the slogan “Celebrating what others fail to see”, has set itself what some might call the tough task of promoting the delights of this spot to outsiders.
“Four or five years ago there was nothing,” admits Lee Edwards. “Now we have an Aldi, two Tesco Expresses and the infrastructure is improving. It’s a slow burn. But it is happening.”