Like much of south London, Balham and Tooting spent a good part of the 20th century asleep in run-down respectability — until the Eighties property boom, when buyers priced out of neighbouring Clapham began to look further down the Northern line.
Today, homes in sought-after conservation areas such Heaver Estate, bordering Tooting Bec Common, which has a wonderful refurbished Edwardian lido, command similar prices to Clapham, but in general properties remain a good 15 per cent cheaper, making it affordable territory for first-time buyers and couples trading up to a house as they start a family.
Balham, nearer to Clapham, is trendier than Tooting, and is popular with young metro types who fill the bars, gastropubs and delis along the lively high road. Haart estate agency chain reports that the SW12 postcode (Zone 3) is attracting more people than ever, with 46 registered buyers for every home on the market, compared with a London-wide average of 19 to one and a national figure of eight to one.
Launching in December is Flow, pictured, a new flats scheme near the high road and Tube station (Zone 3). Prices from £390,995 to £725,995. Call Bellway on 0845 548 3007.