The areas set to bloom this year – it’s not what you expect
An Englishman’s home is his castle, goes the old maxim. Perhaps that’s why property prices are (let’s face it) a national obsession, up there with the weather and Downton Abbey (again, a castle).
But although Downton Abbey might have wooed everybody from your gran to the milkman, property prices across the UK had a tougher time. Some commentators suggest house prices dropped across the UK by around one per cent in 2011, others suggested prices rose overall by about the same amount. Pretty conclusive, then. One thing’s for certain, though – in London, property went up and up.
But that was then and this is now. So what’s in store for 2012? Well, as Simon Lambert, property editor of This Is Money.co.uk, put it: “House price forecasts are a mug’s game”. So we’re not going to do that.
Instead, we’re going take a look at the London districts which have exceptional investment potential.
There are golden opportunities if you know where to look. Last December saw more houses go on sale than at any time since 2005 – indicating renewed confidence in the market.
So where to buy a house? What areas in London will see property prices soar over the coming years? Here’s our guide.
1. Kentish Town: The French effect
Despite its cosy-sounding name and proximity to Regent’s Park and Camden, Kentish Town has remained in the shadow of its celebrity big sister, Primrose Hill, and infamous big bro Camden. But according to local estate agent Peter Malcomess of Chesterton Humberts, this could well change, all thanks to… a French school.
“With the opening of the new French school in Kentish Town last September, enquiries on family homes directly related to the school currently make up around 15 per cent of all our enquiries.
“These requests are mainly from French families living in London, looking for large apartments or family houses in the area,” says Malcomess. This, coupled with the area’s low stock levels also pushing up prices, Malcomess believes, will see the area prices in the area peak in summer 2012.
“The new French school will help to diversify the area and we look forward to seeing some French bistros and cafes as additions to our neighbourhood,” he says. “Property prices have reflected this and we now compete with our neighbours Chalk Farm and Camden.”
2. Battersea: Plans, plans, plans
In his Autumn Statement George Osborne promised an extension of the Northern Line to Battersea. The link will finally put Battersea on the Tube map and in so doing, hopefully, will breathe new life into an area physically and mentally overshadowed by the iconic disused power station, now in administration for its third time.
Mark Hutton, a local estate agent at Douglas & Gordon, believes the chancellor’s promise has had an immediate impact on the area: “People are already buying into the area with these plans in mind,” says Hutton.
Property developer David Barnett agrees – but for different reasons. Relegating the Northern Line Extension to a “dream, there’s no money to pay for it right now”, Barnett believes Battersea will see significant growth over the next decade as developers start to realise the area’s potential; fantastic open space, accessibility and, most importantly, cheap land.
These qualities will be thrusted further into the developer’s limelight once the American Embassy sets up home in the area. Last year the Embassy won planning permission for a site off Ponton Road. This, says Barnett, will be the catalyst for regeneration: “Once the American embassy goes in, everything will move on.”
3. Croydon : The long view
Not just famous for raising Kate Moss (national obsession number four) Croydon, says Burnett, is the place where “every house builder has an interest”. If you find the idea of Croydon turning upmarket hard to swallow, well first of all look at Dalston, and second of all, it ain’t gonna happen overnight.
“In the next 10 years Croydon place will thrive, but you have to play the long game,” explains Barnett. By way of development, planning consent has already been achieved for some big projects and there’s rumours that Westfield Shopping Centre number three will open there.
“Croydon is just 15 minutes away from Victoria and now it’s on the East London line too – it just takes one big thing like Westfield and it the rest will follow.”
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4. Dalston, Shoreditch and Hoxton: Transport links, the Olympics, and everything in between
It’s a three in one here, and if you’re a regular reader of LondonlovesBusiness.com you’ll be familiar with the unprecedented explosion of this part of East London. (Read Dalston: dodgy or desirable property investment? and Postcode en vogue: Shoreditch – the new Bond Street? for the inside scoop on these areas.)
What with the government-backed “Tech City” – an area stretching from Old Street to Stratford that is home to hundreds of tech start-ups, so much so it’s been dubbed “Silicon Roundabout” – this part of East London was already doing pretty well.
But last year’s reopening of the East London Line has cemented its real estate opportunities: Wapping and Canada Water are now easily accessible, opening the area up to two major business hubs.
Then there’s the Olympic Games. According to a report by Lloyds published last year, Shoreditch’s proximity to the home of the 2012 Games has helped raise residential property prices there by a massive 53 per cent, while Dalston saw an increase of 39 per cent.
Too late to invest? Not according to local estate agent Beverly Hedge, who suggests investing now before it’s too late: “It’s still very affordable,” says Hedge. “But it won’t be in five years.”