London's property hotspots for "second steppers":from Palmers Green to Upminster, the capital's top locations for first-time owners moving up the ladder

New research reveals the capital’s top locations for first-time owners trading up in the suburbs. Here's where to start your search for good-value homes with more space...

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Nicknamed “Little Cyprus” thanks to its strong Greek Cypriot community, Palmers Green, a north London suburb on the wrong side of the North Circular road, has a place in pop history. It is where a very young David Bowie first entertained audiences, in mime.

Only 20 minutes from Moorgate, today this district is the capital’s favourite location for “second steppers” — mostly couples and young families moving on from their first-time buyer flats to find more space and a garden.

While the plight of first-time buyers is well documented, those who already have a modest foothold on the property ladder are in almost as much difficulty as they grapple with the exorbitant cost of trading up. When they do move on they are forced out towards London’s fringes, according to an exclusive study today by Hamptons International, which highlights the 30 favourite locations for second-time buyers.


Area  Postcode  Sales to second steppers Second-stepper price Difference from first-time buyer price Annual growth
Palmers Green N13 48% £579,000 £102,532 17.7%
Upminster RM14 46% £412,034 £47,034 17.8%
Kingston upon Thames KT1 45% £495,550 £77,950 15.9%
Tooting SW17 45% £728,333 £248,333 23.2%
Welling DA16 43% £393,000 £69,667 20.7%
Woodford Green IG8 42% £670,277 £283,930 6.6%
Chingford E4 41% £477,571 £91,446 15.5%
Bickley BR2 39% £604,269 £233,769 19.4%
Orpington BR6 38% £590,959 £148,990 2.7%
Southgate N14 38% £590,591 £227,591 10.8%

Palmers Green tops the poll. Almost half the homes sold in the area are to people inching their way up the ladder. They pay an average £579,000, and partly as a result of their interest, prices in the area have surged almost 18 per cent in the last year. Nearby Southgate and Finchley Central are also in the top 30, making three second-step options in leafy north London.

Bustling: Green Lanes in Palmers Green offers betting and pound shops by day but comes to life at night with some of London’s best Turkish and Greek restaurants (Alamy)


With fast trains to central London being a big plus, Michelle Nicodemou, director of Tower Estates, says that for families, the area’s other major draw is St Monica’s Catholic Primary School. A three-bedroom semi in “The Ladder”, a grid of streets within the school’s catchment area, costs an average of £900,000. Further north, pushing towards Winchmore Hill, a similar home would cost about £500,000.

The Intimate Theatre, where Bowie once performed, sadly closed in the Eighties, but Palmers Green still has Green Lanes, a resolutely shabby street which absolutely thrums with energy and character in the evenings when its wonderful Greek and Turkish restaurants attract diners from all over London.

By day, Green Lanes is a little threadbare, and locals complain about too many betting and charity shops, but it still has a vibe which few other suburbs can match.

Palmers Green is in Zone 4, and what today’s research underlines is that second steppers are moving to the ’burbs in droves.

The best-value option in the top 10 is Welling, on the Kent borders, where 43 per cent of homes are sold to first-time buyers. They pay an average £393,000 for a property, and local prices are up an impressive 20.7 per cent year on year.


Upminster takes second place to Palmers Green in today’s study with 46 per cent of homes sold to second steppers. It is also excellent value at £412,034 for a second-step home, up 17.8 per cent in the last year. On the Essex borders, this is a trove of Twenties and Thirties semis. Terry Holmes, director at Beresfords estate agents, says one of these three-bedroom houses typically costs £600,000-£700,000.

He says Upminster’s key appeal is connectivity. It is on the District line, and Overground services to Fenchurch Street take just 23 minutes. When Crossrail opens in 2018/19 locals will be able to pick up the service from nearby Romford.

“Upminster is right on the edge of the green belt, with country parks, and there are some exceptional schools,” adds Holmes.

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