Kingston upon Thames is the family favourite south-west London suburb that comes with an excellent choice of top-performing schools, a well-regarded university and a good stock of large houses within the all-important catchment areas.
© Barry Phillips
This Royal Borough has been tempting homebuyers from areas such as Putney and Southfields for decades. And now there is something of a buy-to-let boom quietly rumbling away in this busy riverside enclave, with a growing number of cash-rich buyers - many local residents themselves - looking to capitalise on the area’s strong rental market by investing in town-centre apartments and riverside housing developments.
Kingston upon Thames is surrounded by the river, has the vast acres of Richmond Park to the west and the charming surrounds of Home Park and Hampton Court Palace to the east.
Regular fast trains reach London Waterloo within 30 minutes and the town centre is well positioned for the A3, the M25 and London Heathrow airport. And, during the summer months, riverboats run regularly to Hampton Court and Richmond.
According to local estate agent Michael Williams of KFH, there is a cosmopolitan mix of students and families drawn to the area for the green spaces and good shopping - but, he adds: “the schools are really why people move here.”
Property in Kingston upon Thames
Kingston upon Thames has a plentiful supply of Victorian and Edwardian houses, purpose-built flats, modern apartment blocks and some riverside developments.
There are grand, spacious houses in the prestigious Coombe Estate and large homes of up to five or six bedrooms within the Liverpool and Richmond Road conservation areas that are also enviably close to both the Thames and to Richmond Park. The housing stock moves into Thirties homes and conversions the further you go towards Ham, Petersham and Richmond.
Who is buying here?
Students and families are drawn to the area for the excellent schools, green spaces and shopping. And in recent months there has been a real uplift of buy-to-let investors, thanks to strong rental yields and the student market. With the current interest rate so low, cash-rich buyers - typically in their 50s and 60s - are looking to invest in property, including local residents who are aware of properties as soon as they are put on the market. Last week a local buyer snapped up a £200,000 home as an investment - and paid cash.
What are the 'hottest' properties in the area?
Family houses priced between £550,000-£700,000 in the KT2 postcode, within the catchment area for some of the excellent local schools. Sought-after roads include Shortlands Road, Eastbury Road and Acre Road as homes are within a five- to ten-minute walk of the town centre, the river and Richmond Park.
Where are the 'hidden gems'?
Mill Street in KT1 is lined with charming cottages and is one of those roads in Kingston upon Thames that people don’t tend to know about. Knights Park has big houses as well as Thirties apartment blocks and is close to the university. Albany Park Road, in KT2, is a prestigious road with grand houses that are close to the river but are tucked away off the main road.
What are the best investment opportunities?
Flats in central Kingston upon Thames achieve good rental yields. Regent’s Court is an apartment block that sits virtually on top of the train station and is very popular. Royal Quarter (pictured, right) is a large development that was built about 12 years ago and is good for investors, and Avante Court is a popular block in The Bittoms, a quiet area that is still close to the town centre.
How is local parking?
Parking within the town centre is very restricted but there are lots of multi-storey car parks. The residential roads are nearly all covered by permits.
What are service charges in the area like?
Charges can vary between £1,500 and £3,500, depending on the apartment block. A flat at Royal Quarter, which includes porterage, a lift and grounds maintenance, costs £3,000 a year.
What would be your “dream” home in this area?
A Victorian house on one of the roads bordering the river, such as Woodside, Chestnut or Eastbury Road – the houses aren’t particularly big, but they are a nice size in a great setting and are within a short walk of Canterbury Park Gardens.
Michael Williams is the sales manager at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward’s Kingston upon Thames office