With the recent elimination of stamp duty for property up to £300,000 is a valuable reduction in start-up costs for buyers already struggling to raise huge deposits.
With the continued growth in the number of house builders getting the Help to Buy London scheme, this allows first-time buyers to pick up a new flat with only a five per cent deposit.
These changes will not solve London’s housing crisis. The huge gap between wages and house prices remains. But for those who are in the lucky position of being able to buy in 2018, there are still pockets of cost-effective housing in the capital.
1. GIDEA PARK
According to Paul Money, branch manager of Beresford: It’s not too late to get in on the Crossrail action.
He believes the leafy Thirties suburb of Gidea Park, on the Essex borders, is a great place for first-time buyers. You could pick up a three-bedroom semi for about £400,000, or a two-up two-down cottage for £325,000-£350,000. Two-bedroom flats cost between £280,000 and £320,000, and one-bedroom flats start from about £220,000 to £250,000.
Even though it may be affordable but Gidea Park will be too suburban for some. Its high street has suffered from proximity to the large shopping centers Westfield Stratford City, Lakeside, and Bluewater. While nightlife is limited to some good old-school pubs. On the other hand, it is pleasantly leafy, with a golf club and Raphael Park, and has a safe, affluent sort of vibe.
South-east London has been attracting many first-time buyers over the last five years, catapulting areas including Hither Green and Crystal Palace from anonymity to desirability.
Rory Cramer, head of the consultancy at Marsh & Parsons New Homes, believes the next area to surge will be Sydenham, where the average price of a flat currently stands at £366,000.
“It’s a true gem of an area and often overlooked,” he says. “With trains into London Bridge in 16 minutes, large green open spaces and independent coffee shops and restaurants, it’s no surprise that prices have increased 16 percent on the same time last year, making it a great investment opportunity.”
Expect to pay about £400,000 for a period conversion, or if you want a new build, Cramer recommends the Dylon Works development where you could use Help to Buy London to pick up a one-bedroom flat for about £379,000.
Surbiton may be in Zone 5, but it is a ridiculously quick commute. Mainline services take from 19 minutes to reach Waterloo, which makes it faster to central London than living in most of Zone 2.
Property ranges from grand Victorian villas and conversion flats to Art Deco apartment buildings and 20th-century semis. Surbiton’s main shopping street is Victoria Road, which has a comprehensive if not the particularly exciting range of supermarkets, shops, and chain restaurants.
More exciting is Maple Road, where independent restaurants and cafes are opening up: this is becoming the go-to spot for buyers heading out of more central areas.
“The stylish Maple Road area is highly desirable for thirtysomething professional couples – a slightly younger demographic than Kingston, which is much more family orientated,” says Edward Gray, managing director of Cocoon estate and letting agents. “It has a range of high-end restaurants, eateries, bars and quality pubs, all within a short walk of the Thames towpath, including the very popular No97, a restaurant and gin bar.”
First-time buyers could get a flat in this popular area from about £450,000 or a Victorian terrace from about £600,000. For buyers on a tighter budget, a two-bedroom flat in a Sixties building would start at about £375,000.
Gray particularly tips Surbiton for future potential. If the proposed Crossrail 2 project goes ahead prices could soar – although buyers will need the patience to benefit since the line won’t be operational until the 2030s.