Wednesday, 22 May 2013

People Power

I am a firm believer that property is all about people and places. Aside from the macroeconomic factors that affect the housing market, micro factors such as location specifics and demographics also affect prices considerably. An area's desirability is often driven by the movement of people and changing lifestyle trends, which in turn will drive price movements.

As Londoners are being priced out of certain areas of the Capital as their property needs change, many are moving to unfamiliar areas. This is nothing new, but the interesting change is that whilst 20 years ago many Londoners would opt to move to commuter towns around the M25, today's London professionals wants to remain firmly within the city limits.

It's not just affordability that has swayed decisions in the past, often a need to accommodate a growing family, access to better schooling or the desire for more open space has driven decisions to move past the M25 and embark on making new 'train buddies'.

However, London has evolved in the past 20 years and many now actively see the benefits in developing their roots in the city. Improving transport infrastructure, more schools, increasing preservation of green areas and developing housing stock are all tangible reasons for people opting to stay in he Capital. Intangibly, the desire for a better work/life balance, increasing flexibility in working hours and a wider awareness of the green agenda are meaning many professionals are seeking a shorter commute to work.

So, you need a bigger home, preferably a house, you'd like a garden (or at least some outside space) and you want a shorter commute so you can spend more time seeing the family grow up. Where do you look?

Areas such as Dulwich, Camberwell, Herne Hill, Lee, Deptford, Hackney, Dalston, and Stoke Newington are starting to increase in popularity with young families as they provide quick access to central London and have a good stock of family houses in the area. These areas are also developing as social destinations, with boutiques and eateries becoming commonplace, complimented by access to green space. What the above areas all have in common is that they all have no tube stations, but central London can be accessed in less than 30 minutes by overground train, bus or bike. All these areas also trade at a discount to counterparts with tube connectivity.

It may be obvious by now, but you will have to make compromises and be a little bit brave, however over time you could be making a very wise economic decision. Needless to say, there are other pockets around London where one could look, but these are more prevalent due to south east London's lack of underground infrastructure.

It's not just families looking for value that should consider these points. Investors looking to speculate over the longer term or enhance their return through a mixture of income and capital growth, should see these as attractive investment reasoning.

On another note, preparations for our Australian business are gaining momentum and we are looking forward to opening later this year. Writing this from a rather fresh feeling London, I think that some development trips down under will be in order sooner rather than later!

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