Location, Location, Location


A friend of mine recently informed me that he wants to move back to London having lived abroad since 2008. As a Londoner born and bred, he knows all about living in the capital. But a lot has changed since he left the city six years ago.

With property prices now 25% above their 2008 peak, my pal has been forced to widen his search for a home to another area after being priced out of buying a property in his preferred location.

If you, like my friend, are thinking of moving somewhere new, here are some of the things that you should do to ensure you are buying property in the right location, and a couple of examples of exciting boroughs.

Research the area
Walk around the neighbourhood to get a proper feel for it. Establish how long it takes to walk to the local train station, pubs, cafes, shops and parks. Check out the local crime statistics on www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk and talk to residents, estate agents and shopkeepers, as this will help determine what it would be like to live in the area and what the future holds. Prestigious and historic Greenwich, for example, is set to see prices rise from last year’s average of £298,130. While Barnet in the north, reports The Telegraph, actually saw prices briefly fall in June of 2013, according to Land Registry.

Housing stock
Are the local properties rundown and poorly maintained or are they well presented with well-preserved gardens and nice cars parked outside? The difference can be dramatic. Kingston upon Thames, for example, is much sought after by families, and prices reflect this. While Lewisham, which has had to deal with some issues of reputation over the years, has good stock – including some three and four bed homes coming in under £500,000 – and sits on the excellent East London Line and next to the green spaces of Dulwich.

Adding value
From basic home improvements to building extensions, some areas offer more of the sort of properties that allow you to add value than others. The Telegraph reports that Hounslow, in the south west, is set to see prices rise by 19.4pc over the next five years. A commuter friendly area with a mixture or period and new build properties, the borough of Hounslow has the grand houses of Chiswick, along with the terraced and semi-detached houses of Brentford.

"Oh what a difference a day makes" seems an suitable soundtrack to the London property market, with property prices have grown 30 to 50% in the last five years, 24 Hours could potentially mean a £200 - £300 pound added to you property's value.

What did next door sell for?
‘Comparison’ is a useful valuation method as it can help determine whether you are over (or under) paying for a property, especially in an area that you are not overfamiliar with. There are various websites that can tell you how much other similar properties in the area sold for, including www.landregistry.gov.uk. You should also talk to local estate agents.

Local amenities
What sort of coffee shops and restaurants are located nearby? Nice shops, estate agents and places to eat all suggest a flourishing area. If you have young children or are planning to start a family, do not leave yourself exposed to the ‘post code lottery’ by securing a home on the wrong street. Refer to the Ofsted report -
ofsted.gov.uk - for the best local schools. Rotherhithe has views of the river, and is set to benefit from 1,030 new homes, to be built by the company behind The Shard. Already popular among 20-somethings who’ve been priced out of Borough, the average property price in Rotherhithe is hovering around £411,052.

Consider areas with established transport facilities – refer to www.tfl.gov.uk – and places with exciting new transport links which are unlocking hidden corners of the capital, making them more accessible, as this could drive up local home prices. Ealing, for example, will benefit from Crossrail, and this is already showing in the house prices, with forecasts predicting a potential rise of 20 per cent over five years.

Marc Da Silva
Property Market Specialist