The latest London property statistic is enough to strike fear into the heart of any first time buyer or, indeed, those looking to upsize from a flat to a house: the average home in the capital costs an astonishing 11 times the average London salary.
But those figures, from Halifax, hide a complex jigsaw of micro-markets all around London. There are, in every Tube zone, pockets of good value whether you want a starter flat or a house with a garden.
Exclusive research by Savills, published today, shines a light on those pockets of value where you might just be able to buy.
Best value for flats: Bow Road
Average price: £381,349
Best value for houses: East Acton
Average price: £578,188
Bow Road is that rarest of beasts: an unreconstituted slice of old fashioned East London which has not been regenerated – yet.
Thousands of new homes are coming to Bow but right now its still a little grotty and you can pick up a two bedroom purpose built flat for less than £400,000 (and there are plenty of cheaper ex local authority options).
You’ve got masses of green space nearby, with the Olympic Park, Victoria Park, and Bow Road Station has District, Hammersmith & City Line and Docklands Light Railway services.
Set between Wormwood Scrubs and Western Avenue, East Acton’s streets serve up a mix of small redbrick terraced cottages and boxy post-war houses.
You have Central Line services into central London and the city, and some very basic shops on Old Oak Common Lane (Westfield is just up the road though). Local schools are generally good – most the local primaries hold at least a “good” Ofsted report.
Best value for flats: Tottenham Hale
Average price: £277,857
Best value for houses: West Ham
Average price: £434,818
Tottenham Hale has been the focus of a tremendous amount of new building in the past decade, but you can still find a purpose built two bedroom flat for less than £300,000. You’ve also got the open spaces of Walthamstow Wetlands on the doorstep, and last year developer Argent Related, which transformed King’s Cross so effectively, started work on a £500m to create a new town centre for the area with shops, a cinema, office space, and a series of public spaces.
Sarah White, 27, and her partner Chris Maughan, 31, based their decision to move from Clapham to Tottenham Hale on “gut feeling”. “When you know you know,” said Sarah, an NHS nurse.
She and Chris, a civil servant, are keen to get onto the property ladder and saw Tottenham Hale as an up and coming opportunity. “You get more for your money at this stage in the development so it’s an investment in our future,” said Sarah.
They bought a one bedroom flat off plan – prices currently start at £428,000 – and will move in in two years. In the meantime, they have been getting to know the neighbourhood.
“We walked around the Walthamstow Wetlands – it’s amazing to have so much wild green space at your doorstep in London and will be perfect for the puppy we adopted in lockdown,” said Sarah. “We walked over to Beavertown Brewery for a couple of drinks with friends. They’ve created a great open-air space and it’s the perfect place to sit out when the sun’s shining. We can definitely see that becoming a weekend go-to.”
Like Tottenham, West Ham is another corner of London inextricably linked to the capital’s footballing history although its team has of course moved on to the Olympic Stadium. What West Ham still has is streets of Victorian terraces, the massive West Ham Park, and Stratford’s Westfield Centre, bars, and restaurants within walking distance. Its Tube station is served by the District and Hammersmith & City Lines and the good news for parents is that its schools are well regarded by Ofsted.
Paul Blakeley, 32, and Victoria Sampson, 31, got engaged on the day they moved to West Ham, and will marry next year. The couple spent £599,995 on their four bedroom flat at the Upton Gardens development, using the Help to Buy scheme to cut the deposit down to £30,000.
They picked West Ham for its good transport links – Paul is a civil servant, and Victoria is a surgeon, and both need to get to work in central London. They liked its green space, and – thinking ahead – there is also a pre-school close by. “It really feels like a regeneration hotspot with lots going on in the area,” said Paul. “There’s even a new gastro pub down the road that I’ve got my eye on.”
Best value for flats: Barking
Average price: £209,857
Best value for houses: Barking
Average price: £411,933
A double win for good-value Barking, where flats cost half the London average, and houses less than the average first time buyer spends on a starter home.
Barking sits at the confluence of the rivers Thames and Roding in deepest East London, ten miles from the west end.
Its selling points include its good transport links (services to Fenchurch Street take less than 20 minutes), the excellent Barking Park, good schools, and affordable housing.
And the slightly desolate-feeling outlier is being given a serious facelift with billions of pounds being spent on creating what Barking and Dagenham Council has dubbed a “mini Manhattan” of landmark towers, an upgraded town centre, with shops and cafes, gardens, and waterfront walks, and new homes.
The redevelopment of the dated town shopping centre Vicarage Field will add a music venue and cinema to the local mix of average shops and good neighbourhood restaurants. When the City’s three historic wholesale markets – Billingsgate, Smithfield, and New Spitalfields – relocate to Barking they will bring a new food hub, featuring independent outlets serving food cooked from fresh produce straight from the markets, to the town centre.
Darnel Joseph-Albert, 29, a gas engineer, and Monique Caprice, 31, who is training to be a solicitor, have already bought into the rebirth of Barking.
The couple wanted to stay close to their East London roots, and in April they moved into a £500,000 four bedroom townhouse at the Barking Riverside development with their daughter, Alana, one.
They chose the area for its affordability – their mortgage comes in at around £800cm, plus another £200 for service charges – plus its proximity to schools and parks.
Monique will need to travel into London for work and another appeal was the fact that a new London Overground station is opening in Barking Riverside next year. And, later this year, Thames Clippers is due to extend its river bus service to Barking Riverside, giving the option of journeys upriver to Greenwich or Canary Wharf in 20 and 25 minutes respectively.
The couple, who had previously lived with family in Hackney, admit they weren’t particularly well prepared for home ownership – at first they slept on a blow-up bed they bought the day they moved in.
Beyond its new builds, Barking’s extremely competitively-priced housing stock includes period terraced houses and 1920s semis, as well as older purpose built flats and period conversions.
TABLE: THE BEST VALUE AREAS BY TUBE ZONE
Average price (year to March 2021)