First-time buyers:four ways Londoners can buy a home for less than £180k

You can still buy a home for less than £180k, and shared ownership is only one of your options...

Affordable housing is London’s big property issue. What exactly constitutes an affordable home?

According to a recent study by myhomemove, 76 per cent of Londoners polled believe that a truly affordable home should cost no more than £180,000. While the idea of finding a property — rather than a parking space — for less than that sum sounds unlikely, there are, in fact, options out there.

The most obvious is to buy a property being sold under shared ownership. Buying only a quarter or a third of a property is not everyone’s ideal, but it certainly is more affordable.


1. Go east, stay in Zone 2

Southern Housing has just launched a tranche of 25 shared-ownership homes at Bow River Village, east London. Prices start at just £117,250 for a 35 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat, and the cost of mortgage, rent, and service charge together add up to £1,260.

Two-bedroom homes start at £141,750, and the monthly cost works out at £1,526. Visit www.shgroup.org.uk for details.

Bow is worth looking at for its great location, midway between Stratford and Canary Wharf, with the City fringes just to its west, and the millions of pounds of regeneration money flowing inwards. It is in Zone 2, and is served by the Docklands Light Railway.

West — near leafy Kew

If you want a slightly leafier way of life, then Currell (www.currell.com) still has a few shared ownership homes left at Vincent Place in Isleworth, built on the site of the former West Thames College, and close to both Richmond and Kew Gardens.

Prices start at £143,500, and trains from Isleworth to Waterloo take less than 40 minutes.


2. All aboard

Another possibility is living afloat. A budget of between £140,000 and £180,000 would buy you a one-bedroom narrow boat plus mooring at a lovely central London marina such as Little Venice, Paddington Basin, Ice Wharf at King’s Cross, Kew Pier or Canary Wharf, according to Nigel Day of Riverhomes (www.riverhomes.co.uk). 

A typical narrow boat in this price range would be six feet wide and around sixty-six feet long, giving 300-400sq ft of living space, depending on its design.

Mr Day warned, however, that it is likely to be impossible to secure a mortgage for a boat, so the only way a first-time buyer is going to get one is with a gift or loan from a relative. 

If this is an option, there are also annual costs to consider. Mooring fees typically run at around £10,000 a year, insurance costs are high at around £1,000 per year and every seven or so years the boat will need taking into dock to have its hull scraped and repainted.

So all things considered, it isn’t a cheap option — although compared with buying a flat in a location such as Little Venice or King’s Cross it is exceptionally good value.


3. Buying at auction

Auctions have a reputation of being a good source of value property, but Andrew Binstock, director and auctioneer of Auction House London, warns first-time buyers not to be fooled by temptingly low catalogue guide prices.

“Prices at auction start cheaper, but we get all the buyers to compete against each other,” he said. “Be under no illusion that anything is cheaper at an auction than it would be through an estate agent.”

Auction House London’s October sale, for example, had 50 London homes up for grabs.

Just three of them sold for less than £180,000 — a tiny one-bedroom house in Hoe Street, Walthamstow (£143,000); a three-bedroom flat in an ex-local authority block in Abbey Wood (£135,000) and a two-bedroom purpose-built flat in Plumstead (£170,000).

You’ll find dates and details of future Auction House London sales when you visit www.auctionhouselondon.co.uk — if  you do decide to bid, make sure you have a mortgage agreed in advance.

And remember, never buy a property without seeing it first.


4. Small is beautiful

The other budget option is to go small with a studio. A refurbished studio room in a Thirties mansion block in Balham High Road is on the market with Haart for £185,000 (haart.co.uk). Plumstead is another place to look for value. Its proximity to the regeneration going on at Woolwich Arsenal, not to mention the arrival of Crossrail in 2018, should help improve this run-down neighbourhood. 

2000-Studio-for-sale-in-Art-Deco-Ducane-Court-in-Balham-185k-hp.jpg
£185,000: studio flat in Du Cane Court, a Thirties block mansion near Balham Tube - through Haart (0845 899 9999)

 

While regeneration has not yet reached this south-east London outpost, Plumstead has many of the raw materials required. 

Plumstead Common and Winn’s Common add up to  about 100 acres, and there’s some good Victorian and Edwardian housing stock, although gastropubs and café culture have yet to arrive. 

Alan Ives (www.alanivesestatesse18.co.uk) is selling a one-bedroom flat in a period house in Plumstead High Street for £179,995, while Robinson Jackson has a one-bedroom flat in a former local authority block in Nightingale Place listed with a guide price of £160,000 (www.robinson-jackson.com).

Peabody housing association is spearheading a Plumstead regeneration plan, by award-winning architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, with new homes and improvements to the High Street over the next five to 10 years.

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