London is humming with activity this autumn with a buzz in the property market not seen since the recession began as the latest new-homes designs are being unveiled.
Meanwhile, property analysts revealed this week that though the average UK second-hand home has dropped in price by 8.4 per cent since the peak of 2008, by June 2010 the average new-build property was discounted by 12.01 per cent.
This has led a report from the Nationwide House Price Index to conclude: "New-build property now reflects much better value than prior to the recession."
The autumn housing launches reveal developers anxious to impress with their show suites open for business and competitive prices for buyers - families trading up, first-timers exiting the rented sector, job-movers, singles and downsizers making a fresh start - who want to move in by Christmas.
Amid signs that the second-hand market is stalling, developers are trumpeting the benefits of new: wider choice, higher quality, energy efficiency, structural warranties and a painless transaction process.
In addition, a new industry consumer code backed by the Office of Fair Trading and giving buyers more legal rights, has come into force, which is timely as a lack of property drives buyers towards off-plan.
Since April 2010 new home reservations have been covered by a strengthened consumer code designed to ensure builders provide clear and truthful information and realistic completion dates. For full details, visit consumercodeforhomebuilders.com.
New-home wow-factor architecture can also boost prices by as much as 20 per cent. Height also brings a dividend: value in tower blocks typically increases by two per cent per floor, but this can reach 10 per cent extra on upper levels of "trophy" high-rise buildings such as The Heron in the Square Mile. People will always pay more for a good aspect or view. Even riverside developments in less desirable locations sell well.
Arthaus at London Fields in Hackney is a Thirties building that was originally a commercial laundry, then a warehouse and, until 2002, incorporated the influential Flowers East art gallery. Today, the redeveloped factory has 45 apartments, three houses, studio space for creatives and is the HQ for art storage experts Momart.
Behind the restored handsome brick façade is a dashing new interior with full-height atrium and a hotel-style lobby that doubles as café and exhibition space. Open corridors overlook this central core and provide access to apartments with custom-made kitchens and bathrooms. There is underground parking, around-the-clock concierge, a residents' entertainment suite for parties and private screenings, a communal roof garden and refrigerated storage rooms for internet food drops. Prices start at £285,000. Call 0800 043 2523.
Despite the name, Bermondsey Central is a slightly off-pitch address, a quadrant of land edging a railway viaduct and a 50-acre regeneration zone, but it is also close to all the SE1 action: Shad Thames, Borough Market, Bankside and the fashionable neighbourhood that has emerged around Bermondsey Street.
Minimalist-designed apartments have multi-media systems with upgrades available for a home cinema with surround sound. At street level, there is nothing special about the sense of arrival, but from the upper floors the location comes into its own, with splendid views of Tower Bridge and the City and the bonus of glorious sunsets. One-, two and three-bedroom flats are for sale, priced from £250,000. Call King Sturge on 020 7087 5068.
Shillibeer Place, Marylebone, is a genuinely boutique scheme of three new townhouses, one new mews house and a pair of refurbished Georgian houses right in the heart of this delightful London village. Classic period-style architecture on the outside sets off clean-cut contemporary-design interiors with belt-and-braces security and all the creature comforts. Townhouses have integral garages, too. Prices from £2.75 million. Call Savills on 020 7016 3860.
Central St Giles is a new address on the border between Soho and Covent Garden. The residential part of this mixed-use office and retail development includes a 2,500 sq ft penthouse with wraparound terrace and awesome views of the capital's landmarks from east to west. Prices from £1.8 million. Call EA Shaw on 020 7240 2255.
The Helix is tucked away in a quiet cul-de-sac behind East Sheen high street, an increasingly fashionable part of town. Niche developer Richstone has launched four townhouses priced from £1.295 million and five apartments from £285,000. Call 020 8876 4567.
City Peninsula, Greenwich, overlooks a sweeping curve of the Thames by the O2 Arena. The final phase has been launched. Prices from £269,950. Call Bellway Homes on 0845 257 6068.
Putney Square is a new Barratt development close to where the Cleggs live in south-west London. Part of the area's "riverside quarter", it is aimed at singles and couples who want the convenience of the Tube, the buzz of the high street and the tranquility of surrounding leafy open spaces. One- and two-bedroom flats are priced from £365,000.