This acute shortage is driving families in search of houses to leave the capital and move to the suburbs and further afield. But those with homes here are beginning to believe that the scarcity value will drive up prices and make their London property a good investment.
'The dearth of new-build houses comes at a time when they have never been more popular with buyers'
Property consultant Drivers Jonas Deloitte supports this view that over the medium to long term, freehold houses in the capital will command bigger premiums than they do now. In its report published this week, the firm expects a real stoking up of house price growth in 2012/13, when the supply shortage will begin to hit hardest.
Flats 77 per cent of new build
A study of developments with 50-plus units shows that future construction is heavily dominated by smaller flats, with one- and two-bedroom flats making up 77 per cent of the total.
A decade ago, houses made up a third of all building but that figure has fallen to five per cent. Houses being built at niche developments will boost the overall figure but the number coming through is still meagre. New rules coming in to curb back-garden development are likely to exacerbate the shortage.
Ironically, the dearth of new-build homes comes at a time when houses have never been more popular with buyers. They are attracted to the contemporary designs and their flexible room layouts - after years of a predictable diet of dull, traditional three-storey town houses.
These more glamorous and aspirational properties have also been surprisingly affordable as builders have sharpened their thinking and found plots in less-expensive neighbourhoods.
Whether opting for bold, striking new architecture or Victorian or Georgian lookalike, buyers want interiors that are sympathetic to their lifestyle. Top of the wish list are light, open-plan interiors with a spacious kitchen/family room plus low-maintenance patio gardens, bedrooms en-suite with good bathroom fittings, and even home cinemas. Another must-have is “green” features - solar heating or rainwater collection - all of which developers now take much more seriously than before.
Stocks are low but homes that fit these criteria are on the market - at the moment. By the look of things, however, they won’t be there for long.
Around the houses
Not many parts of London are bounded by green belt and yet still on the Tube map. Mill Hill is one such place, making it a destination for homebuyers who like the country feel. Ridgemont, off Frith Lane, is being built by Countryside Properties - 96 flats and 26 four-bedroom town houses - on former Ministry of Defence land. Houses are priced from £630,000. Call 020 8343 0990.
Ten sleek, Scandinavian-inspired town houses with up to four bedrooms are part of the Zulu Mews gated development at Cabul Road, Battersea. Houses are “inverted”, with bedrooms downstairs and a loft-like living area upstairs. Interior design is simple and restrained, with timber and white-coloured finishes. A glazed wall faces a courtyard above the integral garage. Prices from £595,000. Call Hamptons International on 020 758 8478.
Before motorised transport, horses and carriages for London’s first omnibuses were stabled at Shillibeer Place in Marylebone. Six new period-style houses with modern interiors have been built at the former mews. Prices from £2.75 million.
“We’ve had enormous interest from people who enjoy having their own front door, their own freehold and the space to spread out over different floors,” says Ian Pidgeon of Savills.
“The added bonus is that price-wise the houses compare favourably with apartments - about £1,400 a square foot, against £2,000 for a top-end apartment.” Call 020 7016 3860.
Few places in inner London have the peaceful charm of Barnsbury, arguably Islington’s top address. Developments are rare because of the preponderance of listed properties, hence the draw of a new terrace of 15 houses at Barnsbury Park. The homes sit back from the road behind iron railings and have up to four bedrooms and 1,850sq ft of space, plus a small front and back garden.
Modern interiors are airy and well planned. A white-gloss, open-plan kitchen/day room connects to the garden via glass double doors; a skylight opens up the top floor. Bathrooms have wet room-style showers, and there is underfloor heating throughout. On-site parking is provided. Prices from £675,000 to £1.5 million. The developer is Mount Anvill (0845 177 0006).
Queensbridge Quarter, bordering London Fields, will have 22 three- and four-bedroom houses, a contemporary take on traditional terrace properties, with double-height stairwells and skylights. Prices from £500,000. Call United House on 020 7613 4044.
The Hamptons is a 60-acre “community” of New England- and Scandinavian-style homes in south-west London. New four-bedroom houses under construction are available to buy off plan. Prices from £479,950. Call St James on 020 8337 3425.
Part of a handsome conservation area in this underrated south-east London neighbourhood bordering Dulwich is Camberwell Grove. Listed Mary Datchelor School, which has been redeveloped into 90 homes, includes a new terrace of 12 in-keeping Georgian-style town houses.
The four-bedroom houses have balanced accommodation including separate reception and family rooms, a master bedroom with dressing area, a study, conservatory, underground garage plus 24-hour estate management and private gardens. Residents have access to a private tennis club on part of the former school playground. Prices from £1.45 million. Call developer St George on 020 7708 5829.
Derick and Sallie Deysel moved to Ridgemont in Mill Hill from West Hampstead. With their girls Lyla and Kiki growing up they needed more space and good schools, and the home was in a good catchment area.
Derick, an accountant, says: "We looked around, not necessarily wanting new-build, but this house was great value for money, modern, secure and with all the creature comforts. We are surrounded by green, open space and a secure playground is being built within the grounds. As well as a garden, we have a terrace that overlooks Finchley Golf Course and has farreaching views."
The couple bought a four-bedroom home with an integral garage. Similar "Montana" house types cost from £630,000.