In boroughs ringing the main employment centres of the West End, the City and Canary Wharf, more than 50 per cent of residents are aged between 20 and 44, while graduates make up 60 per cent of the workforce, twice the UK average.
Not only do young professionals set the tone of a neighbourhood by bringing with them a cappuccino culture and hastening gentrification, they set the pace of the housing market by pushing up prices and rents. This sparks a familiar property pattern: once-affordable areas quickly become out of reach for the next aspiring generation who must search for “undiscovered” better-value areas. Increasingly, that means travelling well into Zone 2 and beyond.
In the six inner boroughs with the highest concentration of young professionals — Hackney, Lambeth, Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets — property values have raced ahead of the London average over the past decade, according to the Office for National Statistics. Back in 2004, Hammersmith & Fulham prices were 25 per cent above the London average. Today, they are 65 per cent higher. In Islington, prices were 12 per cent higher, now it’s 40 per cent. Hackney homes were six per cent higher and are now 22 per cent more. Lambeth was seven per cent below the London average and is now eight per cent above. So which areas will the next tranche of trendsetting graduates and professionals colonise?
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Estate agent Winkworth, which has a capital-wide branch network, tips Camberwell and Southwark, both south of the river. Prices in these two areas are already 12 per cent higher than the London average. There is also Acton in Ealing borough, where prices are six per cent below the average.
The absence of a Tube station kept the area under the radar but with the arrival of the Overground the secret is out. Denmark Hill train station is one of the stops on the Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction spur of the East London line, which has transformed commuting by providing much quicker hops to Docklands, Victoria, London Bridge and Blackfriars. Denmark Hill also has direct trains to Farringdon, poised to become a mega transport hub once Crossrail is up and running in 2018.
From £350,000: flats and houses launch at Liberty Quarter, South Acton, in March. Register at actongardens.co.uk.
Acton is already on the rise, attracting buyers priced out of Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith. The area will be one of the biggest Crossrail winners, as journey times to the West End will be slashed by up to 30 minutes, while house prices will get a 20 per cent-plus boost, say property consultants CBRE. Liberty Quarter is part of an ambitious regeneration project transforming former South Acton council estate. A new phase of 60 flats and townhouses is launching next month. Prices from £350,000 to £750,000. To register, visit actongardens.co.uk.
From £950,000: Napier Square, West Acton
At Napier Square in West Acton, multi-storey townhouses have private parking, terraces and back gardens. Prices from £950,000. Call Berkeley Homes on 020 8811 2336.
Is there a tube?
“Proximity to a Tube station is the single most important factor — a must for almost every buyer and renter through our doors,” says Winkworth chief executive Dominic Agace. Young men, in particular, like to be near a station, with their day-to-day needs of pub, café, restaurant, deli and dry cleaners on the way to or from work.
Zone 2’s last remaining secrets: From Deptford to Canning Town and Kilburn
Worth investigating are Whitechapel, Rotherhithe, Deptford, Stockwell, Oval, New Cross, Brockley, Brixton, Ladywell, Lewisham, Finsbury Park, Holloway, Canning Town and Kilburn. Land Registry figures show that the average price for south London boroughs is £343,878 — that’s £80,200 less than north London boroughs. Research company Lonres, which collates data from estate agents, says square foot values in inner south London average £650, compared with £956 in north London and £1,075 in west London.
While the extended East London line through Hackney and south to Croydon has opened up areas previously out of bounds to commuter-conscious home buyers, “most people working in the City and West End want to live in more commuter-friendly north London”, says Iain Currie of Holborn estate agent Thomson Currie.
Of the 275 Tube stations in London, only 30 are south of the river. Arguably, north London has more housing variety too, with trendy City-fringe districts, handsome Georgian squares, canalside lofts and smart Victorian terraces.
From £300,000: one- to three-bedroom flats at Chester Balmore in Camden's Dartmouth Park conversation area. Call 020 3320 8220.
However, affordable homes are for sale. New apartments at a scheme called Chester Balmore in Camden’s Dartmouth Park conservation area near Archway Tube station cost from £300,000. Call Savills on 020 3320 8220. Other buyers simply move further along the line to get better value for money. “What may look a longer way out on the map is just 10 minutes more on the train,” adds Dominic Agace. Winkworth’s price data shows Haringey, Hendon, Tottenham, Edgware and Wembley as among the cheapest places north of the river. In the east, Barking and Walthamstow, both Tube-connected, stand out as good value, as does Isle of Dogs beyond the Canary Wharf business district.
Forgotten Hot tip: North Kensington
The cheapest part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is North Kensington, a 15-minute walk from Notting Hill Gate, where prices are more like those in Balham, points out estate agent Marsh & Parsons.
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