The post-Brexit slowdown in London’s property market is creating an unexpected benefit for first-time buyers. Until this year, Help to Buy, the Government’s flagship loan scheme to help first timers on to the housing ladder, made its biggest impact outside the capital, where an astonishing one in three new-build homes were being sold to people making use of it.
In London, however, only one in 10 new-build properties was bought under the scheme. This was partly because so many new builds in London cost more than £600,000 — the scheme’s upper price limit. But it was also because, until recently, developers found it easy selling flats to rich overseas buyers, cash-rich investors and affluent UK buyers.
These buyers had little need for Help to Buy. Indeed, some seemed to believe that involvement with a government subsidy scheme might tarnish the appeal of high-end developments.
Now times are tougher and as a result an unprecedented number of new schemes in some great locations are going on sale under Help to Buy London, a scheme that allows first-timers to take a 40 per cent equity loan rather than the 20 per cent maximum allowed previously. This enables Londoners with relatively minimal savings to buy with a deposit of just five per cent.
Martin Fillery, director at estate agents Currell and an expert on affordable housing, believes the Government is putting pressure on developers to offer Help to Buy London more widely as it tries to increase the amount of affordable housing in the capital.
“If they have seen any sort of slow-down in their sales rates it is a great way to open things up to a different audience,” he says. With more homes to choose from, buyers interested in taking advantage of the scheme can opt for already-gentrified areas — or those with great potential to follow suit.
Peckham: hipster central
Peckham has seen a particularly dramatic reinvention from drab south London suburb to hipster HQ in the last few years, with prices spiralling accordingly.
The fact that Crest Nicholson’s Wood’s Road development (crestnicholson.com) is marketed under the logo “Proudly Peckham” is a sign of just how much SE15’s fortunes have changed. A couple of years ago developers would probably have been trying to pretend it was in “East Dulwich borders”.
Wood’s Road is less than five minutes’ walk from Queens Road Peckham station, in Zone 2 with trains to London Bridge taking from 10 minutes. It is also just half a mile from the bars, restaurants and independent shops around Peckham Rye. This is a good-looking, leafy sort of development with low-rise blocks ranged around a central landscaped courtyard — and some of the flats also have great city views.
Prices start at £455,000 for one-bedroom flats and £599,995 for three-bedroom flats. Two-bedroom flats go on sale later this year and are likely to be priced at £500,000-£550,000.
Bermondsey is another area where regeneration has been organic rather than development-led, thanks to the excellent bars and restaurants in Bermondsey Street. Linden Homes’ Corio development is in Grange Walk, close to the south end of Bermondsey Street, and within walking distance of Bermondsey, Borough and London Bridge stations.
These open-plan flats have a bit of a loft apartment vibe about them with bare brick walls, and all have a private balcony or terrace, plus access to a residents’ courtyard garden. Prices start at £539,950 for a one-bedroom apartment.
Meanwhile, later this month, Telford Homes will launch Help to Buy London flats at Bermondsey Works, with prices starting at £517,500 for a two-bedroom flat. The development, in Rotherhithe New Road, is less than 10 minutes’ walk from South Bermondsey Overground station, and about a mile from Bermondsey Tube. This is an area in line for transport investments over the next few years, too, with a new London Overground station planned nearby.
West ham’s new village
West Ham is a less modish and therefore less expensive choice than either Bermondsey or Peckham, but it is an area which is seeing considerable regeneration investment.
Its largest development in living memory is Upton Gardens, 842 new homes being built on the site of West Ham Football Club’s former Boleyn Ground, a short walk from Upton Park Tube station, in Zone 3 on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines. The development promises to become a London village in itself, with gated communal gardens and roof terraces, a library, play areas, and shops. Prices start from £350,000 for one-bedroom flats. Visit www.barratthomes.co.uk.
Authentic mile end
Another choice for those keen on living close to the City and Canary Wharf is Bow. This area has been slow off the mark in the great east London gentrification race, but has all the more character for it. Countryside’s St Paul’s Square is just off Bow Common Lane, and its transport links are fantastic.
It is less than a half-mile walk from Mile End Tube station, in Zone 2 on the District, Central and Hammersmith & City lines. From there you can be at Canary Wharf in six minutes, and the City in a quarter of an hour. Local highlights include Mile End Park, which links up to Victoria Park and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and the restaurants along Burdett Road.
Prices at St Paul’s Square start from £425,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £465,000 for a two-bedroom flat. Visit countryside-properties.com.
First-time buyers who would like to take advantage not only of Help to Buy London but the imminent opening of the Elizabeth line could consider Acton Gardens, Countryside Property’s £600 million reboot of the grim 53-acre South Acton Estate. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the expanses of Gunnersbury Park. Really local shops, pubs, and restaurants are thin on the ground but Chiswick High Road is a 10-minute Tube ride away.
Acton Gardens is only about a mile from new Elizabeth line services at Acton Central station, and even closer to Acton Town Tube, in Zone 3, with Piccadilly and District line services.
One-bedroom flats start at £470,000 with two-bedroom flats from £595,000 at West Park Terrace, the current phase of this huge development, with more Help to Buy London properties coming on stream next month.