The London housing market has entered its busiest first quarter in a decade as home-movers rush to complete before the end of March stamp duty holiday deadline, despite being plunged into lockdown 3.

The market is fully open, in line with Government guidance, with buyers still able to view property and move home and conveyancing and surveys allowed.

Bank of England mortgage approvals rose seven per cent in November to the highest level since the property peak in 2007. This activity will flow through the new year.

“With the buoyant 2020 market and the stamp duty holiday running until March 31 we are preparing for the busiest Q1 in over a decade as homebuyers push to complete on their purchase,” says Graham Sellar, head of mortgages at Santander.

Web traffic for Dexters doubled between Christmas Day and December 27. This surge in demand is expected to continue throughout the third national lockdown with people spending more time at home and in front of a screen.

“With the Government encouraging activity in the property market, and careful protocol in place, we anticipate that this January will continue to see an upturn in people asking to view properties and making offers,” says Richard Page of Dexters.

The vaccine roll-out will add to the furore. A fifth of people polled by Savills said the successful rollout of a vaccine would increase their commitment to moving within the next year.

Where to buy in London in 2021

New data from Experian has revealed that the purported surge of people leaving inner London has been overblown.

In 2019, for every 100 households moving into inner London from elsewhere in the UK 114 moved out. In the six months from March to September 2020, migration out of inner London rose only slightly.

“Migration out of inner London has increased but far less than some apocalyptic commentators have suggested,” says Lawrence Bowles, analyst at Savills.

“We expect this to slowly reverse next year as we see a vaccine rollout.”

But with everything we thought we knew turned on its head this year, where in London should home buyers look now?

New research by Homes & Property and Foxtons reveals the home-buying hotspots for 2021. These are areas where house prices have slumped over the past five years making them ripe for growth, or neighbourhoods in the midst of transformation.

Vauxhall, Battersea, Wandsworth

Why it’s one to watch: It has been a decade since the approval of the masterplan of the Battersea Power Station development and 10 years since Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, ring-fenced Nine Elms as an opportunity area for regeneration.

Foxtons expects the Thames-side stretch from Vauxhall to Wandsworth to be busy next year as a result of so many redevelopments projects.

“The blue chip companies that are setting up in Nine Elms despite Covid, including Penguin the giant publishing house, and in Battersea Power Station, will bring more buyers to these areas,” the Foxtons report reads. “We expect this area to become an extension of prime central London.”

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Village feel: Felicity Barnard, husband Michael and their son, Thomas in Wandsworth (Matt Writtle)

Where to buy: Felicity Barnard, with her husband Michael and children May and Thomas, moved from their flat in Fulham six years ago to a terraced house in Wandsworth Old Town and fell in love with the area.

“Old Town has the feeling of a village community but it is only 10 minutes into Waterloo,” says sports consultant Felicity.

“There’s lots of shops and cafes and during the pandemic Old York Road was pedestrianised so people could sit outside and eat and drink. We’re right next to the river and there are five or six parks in walking distance.”

The Barnards are – reluctantly – selling their four-bedroom house for £1,335,000 (call Savills on 020 8877 4819) to move closer to grandparents.

Raynes Park

Why it’s one to watch: Raynes Park benefits from comparatively lower prices than nearby Earlsfield, South Fields and Wimbledon.

A £700,000 budget goes much further in Raynes Park according to Charlie Vickery of KFH and will stretch to a freehold house with outside space.

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£425,000: this two-bedroom flat in Worple Road through KFH

Where to buy: “The 1930s houses by Cannon Hill Common are ideal for growing families,” he adds.

It has a buzzing high street too sporting the cocktail bar Babylon, Lime and Thyme, a popular coffee shop, and the hair salon Love and Dye — which does art classes in the evening in normal times.

Shepherds Bush

Why it’s one to watch: According to the Foxtons report, Shepherds Bush is “an undervalued area of London. The arrival of White City Westfield triggered a pipeline of new developments which continue to smarten up the area including the conversion of the old BBC studios into homes.

Where to buy: New apartments in the Berkeley Homes’ scheme White City Living launched on January 9.

The one- two- and three-bedroom pads sit in five acres of gardens with a 150m stream running through it, residents have access to a gym, swimming pool and lounge too. Prices start from £845,000.

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From £495,000: flats in One West Point in Old Oak Common

Nearby Old Oak Common is earlier in its Crossrail-led transformation and offers more for your money.

Apartments in One West Point, which will be the tallest tower in west London, start from £495,000 (contact JLL on 020 3553 6811).

Islington

Why it’s one to watch: House prices in Islington have nudged up just five per cent over the last five years, out-paced by neighbouring Hackney and Shoreditch. But, according to Knight Frank’s Edward Robinson the area now looks better value than it did in 2015. He expects the market to be busy next year.

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Where to buy: Islington is popular with those in FinTech, based at Old Street, aka Silicon Roundabout, and buffeted from the economic pain caused by Covid, he explains.

“Affordability has gone back up with low mortgage rates, slow price growth and the stamp duty holiday,” he says.

Shoreditch and Whitechapel

Why it’s one to watch: In the 2000s Shoreditch became the place to go out in London. City workers and young professionals joined the grungy scene that had long been the secret preserve of artists, creatives and locals.

Developers and retailers followed sending house prices on steep decade-long climb. Its regeneration story is not over.

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Highline park: the Bishopsgate Goodyard scheme was approved late last year

Where to buy: Only last month the Mayor of London approved the 10-acre Bishopsgate Goodsyard scheme which will open up old railway arches and connect all the roads around Shoreditch High Street station. On top of disused arches will run a highline park.

Prices are yet to be set but half of the 500 homes will be designated as shared ownership or discounted rent. The development will also deliver the biggest single provision of affordable workspace and studios in all of London.

For those looking to buy in or near Shoreditch now, Whitechapel is a cheaper alternative just a short walk away.

The Silk District is a vast collection of new build low-lying buildings and tall towers in amongst the old housing stock of Whitechapel. Prices start from £455,000 (contact JLL on 020 3553 6811).

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