Hot homes: houseboats on the Thames

Get on board as we take a tour of the capital's houseboats, narrowboats and designer barges for sale.
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Fancy working at home from a peaceful deckside office, hosting a summer drinks party on your riverside roof terrace, or exploring Britain's spectacular waterways every weekend from the comfort of your own floating home?

Ten thousand Londoners already live at least part time along the capital's extensive 100-mile canal network, including Yo! Sushi and former "dragon" Simon Woodruffe, artist Damien Hirst and daredevil Bear Grylls.

Demand for residential moorings continues to outstrip supply along the riverfront as more home buyers discover London's sought-after wharves, hidden docks and tranquil islands.

However, Grahame Hall of River Homes says: "Purchasing a boat is not like buying bricks and mortar. It’s pretty much a ‘cash only’ domain without any definitive guarantee of capital appreciation. Buyers of boats are usually equity- or cash-rich individuals who are making an aspirational or emotional purchase, or achieving an ambition of some sort, by buying a home upon the water."   

Boat buyers tend to opt for either a traditional barge with a working engine, so the vessel can journey upon the water, or for floating homes which are effectively static, as they have no engine.   




We catch up with Grahame Hall, a sales and lettings manager at River Homes in central London, to get the latest onthe capital's thriving houseboat market.

How does the current level of interest in houseboats compare to previous years?
Interest has been consistent and always surprises our clients, as it is not at all seasonal, as one would expect. In the year to date, we have continued to receive a great number of enquiries. The interest in the houseboats and barges that we offer for sale remains very positive.  

Do you expect to see significant growth in this market in the next couple of years?
Certainly. Interest in using the Thames is certainly growing, whether it be for transport, or for kayaking, regattas and even riverside running events. New homes and regeneration around Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms and Albert Embankment mean more people than ever will be living by the Thames.

What type of buyers are attracted to houseboat living?
Buyers can be as eclectic a mix as the boats themselves. Entrepreneurs, retirees and Londoners who are perhaps basing themselves out of the City but need a bolthole here, are all potential houseboat buyers.

Is this an affordable option for first-time buyers?
​We receive many enquiries from first-time buyers who perceive boats as a well-priced entry point (especially given some of their locations) into the property market. However, high street banks and building societies tend not to loan against boats, and marine/maritime mortgages higher interest rates averaing between 8-11 per cent. So the cost of borrowing against a boat can be prohibitive.


£260,000: Lucia is moored at St Katharine Docks, within the heart of the city - a well-kept secret and an absolutely beautiful location. It is a perfect pied-à-terre with a secure mooring (secure in the sense of being on a well-run mooring with an emphasis on the security of residents)

Which moorings are most sought-after along the Thames?
A significant amount of the value and asking price is dictated by the ‘value’ of the mooring, rather than by the boat itself.  A great deal of demand is postcode driven, as with houses and apartments.

The central areas of Chelsea, Battersea and St Katharine's Dock are particularly sought after; the docks surrounding Canary Wharf offer a wide range of residential boats at an equally wide range of prices, all within the heart of the city. Further west, Wandsworth’s moorings enjoy a great reputation and Chiswick’s benefit from being on the cusp of London while looking towards very natural, almost rural riverbanks; once you go west beyond Richmond towards Hampton Court, long established and very peaceful moorings abound.

What is the difference between a residential mooring and a leisure mooring?
The tenures of moorings are a variation on either a Residential mooring (the boat moored can be used as a permanent residence) or Leisure mooring (the boat moored may have restrictions in terms of how long the owner can stay or the use of the vessel (they may not be able to work from home or offer the vessel for let, for instance). Invariably, residential moorings have a greater sense of security and tend to be more saleable, thus leading to an increased value).  

Are there any new London moorings in the pipeline?
Yes. There are several in the pipeline across the Thames and within some of the city’s docks.


£1.3 milllion: Babushka has one of London’s most coveted moorings at Cadogan Pier. This is a leisure pier, meaning that the use of a boat here is restricted to being a pied-à-terre but this particular boat was assigned a long residential lease and can be used as a permanent home/studio/office.



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