Modern new apartments at The Orchard in Clerkenwell
Boutique apartment schemes are a Clerkenwell staple, and the latest is a resourceful redevelopment of a nondescript commercial building on Pear Tree Street.
The Orchard has 28 apartments and proves the area still packs a design punch, with exposed concrete ceilings, polished plaster walls, high-gloss, white Corian kitchens, "molten metal" tiles and coloured glass door knobs. There are private courtyard gardens and parking, too. From £530,000. Call 0845 077 3999.
Rental guarantees for buy-to-let investors are back: Lewisham and Royal Docks
Rental guarantees to tempt buy-to-let investors have returned after a six-year absence. Barratt is paying five per cent net at two London schemes — Renaissance, in Lewisham, and Waterside Park, Royal Docks.
The move is in response to the buoyant rental market, typified by record demand from tenants and low void periods. Rental guarantees are a worthwhile incentive for off-plan homebuyers as a monthly income is paid from the day of completion and the hassle of finding and dealing with tenants is removed. Normally, guarantees last for two years.
"Both are in areas of significant regeneration, where prices and rents are set to increase substantially over the next five years," said Gary Patrick, Barratt director.
Renaissance is a 788-home scheme in Lewisham town centre, an upand-coming travel Zone 2 address with eight-minute train links to London Bridge. Prices from £181,000. Flats at Waterside Park cost from £240,000. Call 0844 5566 166.
Rental guarantees were popular prior to the credit crunch. Some lenders remain wary of such incentives, believing they artificially inflate asking prices.
Annual returns on London buy-tolet properties have increased to 10.4 per cent, due to rising capital growth, according to specialist estate agent Ludlow Thompson. Rental "yields" are typically 5.2 per cent.
Buy a home at Arsenal FC's former Highbury stadium
Apartments at Arsenal FC's former Highbury stadium have reappeared on the market following a collapsed investor sale. The art deco stadium, which has two listed stands, has been transformed into a swish residential complex of 711 homes.
The newly built North Stand is a seven-storey block of glass-fronted flats overlooking the old pitch, now a huge garden square with sculptural planting, below which is a glass-topped health spa.
"This is an unexpected opportunity to buy. There is huge emotional attachment to the stadium and it will be a prestige address for decades to come," said Nick Davies of estate agent Stirling Ackroyd. Prices start at £315,000. Call on 020 7749 3800.
New homes in Walthamstow and Leyton
The spotlight is falling on Walthamstow and Leyton as regeneration spreads from the Olympic park. This is the real East End hinterland, where urban sprawl makes for a less attractive environment than the river-hugging districts of Docklands. But both areas are served well by transport — Zone 3 on the Tube and quick trains into the City.
Street cafés and late bars are opening, signalling the arrival of young buyers who have brought their lifestyle with them. There is even a farmers' market to complement the lively 400-stall street market in Walthamstow that pulls in people from across east London.
New apartments include Walthamstow Central, next to the train station, where prices start at £199,999. Call 020 8509 4457. Launching in June 2013 in Leyton is Claude Terrace, a scheme of Victorian-style townhouses aimed at young families trading up from a flat. The three-storey homes have 1,319sq ft of space and a garden and fit nicely into the streetscape. Prices from £395,000. Visit claudeterrace.co.uk.
New-build cottages and beachfront apartments in coastal Essex
Despite the Thames Estuary's industrial legacy, 70 per cent of Essex is countryside, with many delightful villages and some of the country's best schools.
The Garrison, Shoeburyness, is a 180-acre coastal site with nature reserves and wetlands. Once a weapons testing centre, it was occupied by hundreds of military personnel and their families — a community with its own hospital, chapel, cricket pitch and parade ground.
Today it is an upmarket housing estate, with 50 Victorian buildings alongside new-build cottages and strikingly modern beachfront apartments. The estate's architecture and layout remain largely as originally designed. Buildings are well spread-out, there are wide tree-lined roads, open spaces and sea views.
One particular house type — the five-bedroom detached Horsfield — has proved so popular that developer Country and Metropolitan is inviting offers over £550,000 for the last one remaining, with a final bids deadline of June 12. Other properties are priced from £379,950, and qualify for the Help to Buy scheme. Call 01702 667892.