London today is full of tenants who can’t afford to buy the sort of place they rent.
Ten years ago a young professional would arrive in the capital, often following friends, and share a rented flat before getting on the housing ladder by buying nearby in an area they had grown to love.
However, property price rises and sluggish wage growth in recent years have created a new era: that of the nomadic first-time buyer.
Tenants who are wannabe homeowners must now be prepared to cross Greater London to seek out the best deals, often enticed by the government-backed Help to Buy scheme, into areas they have neither knowledge of nor affiliation with.
Here, we take a look at the areas appearing on buyers’ radar thanks to Help to Buy.
HELP TO BUY: CHEAPEST AND MOST EXPENSIVE BOROUGHS
The average Help to Buy property in London costs £410,000, according to Savills.
The scheme allows buyers to purchase a property with a five per cent deposit and a 55 per cent mortgage. The remaining 40 per cent is provided by the state as an equity loan, which remains interest free for the first five years.
How Help to Buy works in London
The scheme is at its most expensive in Hammersmith & Fulham, where the average Help to Buy home costs £552,654. Homes are cheapest in Bexley in south-east London at £210,308 on average.
The scheme, which has been extended to run until 2023, is more common in the outer boroughs, where land values are lower for the developer and there’s more room to build.
Applications to build in both Zone 1 and Zone 2 have fallen six per cent since 2009 to 10,479, while applications to build in the outer boroughs have grown 120 per cent over the same period, according to data from property consultants JLL.
“Help to Buy availability is usually a sign of much larger efforts to regenerate areas, providing an economic boost alongside much-needed new homes,” says CBRE chief Mark Collins.
“Improved transport links are giving first-time buyers more choice. They can move to areas within their price points, without the disadvantage of a significantly longer commute.”
THE HELP TO BUY TOP 10
New research, exclusive to Homes & Property, has revealed the boroughs with the most Help to Buy sales in the last year.
Barnet tops the table, followed by Havering, Greenwich, Hillingdon and Lewisham. The research by CBRE gives the rest of the top 10, in order, as Croydon, Tower Hamlets, Bromley, Barking & Dagenham and Bexley.
Barnet has the most expensive Help to Buy properties in the top 10. Its average Help to Buy price is £468,289 compared to the average house price of £556,761.
These values are driven by location: Barnet is well connected with 13 Tube and Overground stations and good train links.
More than 2,500 homes are under construction but there are extensive pockets of greenery, such as the Hampstead Heath Extension.
“This corner of north-west London is close to green open spaces, with a countryside feel,” says Michael Fisher of Savills.
“The borough also has three golf clubs and an equestrian centre, so there is a real sense of being able to follow country pursuits while working in the West End.”
He recommends pubs such as The Bohemia in Finchley or The Rising Sun and Adam and Eve in Mill Hill. The regeneration of Brent Cross Shopping Centre and surrounding area will bring yet more homes, retail and amenities.
Savills is selling a range of homes, from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom townhouses, at The Claves in NW7.
The development, a third of a mile from Mill Hill East Tube, is part of the Millbrook Park masterplan which will deliver 2,000 new homes and a new primary school. There is a residents’ garden, concierge service, gym and cycle store.
Prices start from £425,000 for a one-bedroom flat. Call 020 7409 8756 for more details.
Croydon council-owned developer Brick by Brick offers homes to locals first but after the initial two-month period sees first-time buyers coming from the more expensive neighbouring boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth.
“Help to Buy is certainly a factor in attracting people to new neighbourhoods where they have no previous ties,” says Colm Lacey, managing director of Brick by Brick. “Some are even moving from north of the Thames.”
Brick by Brick has planning permission to build 15 two- and three- storey houses and 15 new flats in Upper Norwood.
The average Help to Buy home in Croydon costs £393,703.
Help to Buy in combination with other incentives can also tempt wannabe homeowners into an unfamiliar part of town.
A new apartment in Bow Garden Square in E3, by Telford Homes, comes with free furniture, as chosen by Hatch Interiors, worth £5,000 this Christmas.
Prices start from £390,000 for the 83 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments which are built above a new primary school. Call 020 8023 8751 for more information.
A stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers is another common offer.
But even with a little help from the Government and some seasonal goodwill from the developers, first-time buyers in London today need deep pockets and an open mind to breaking new ground to get on the housing ladder.
First-time buyers Jack Rawlings, 27 and Rebecca Johansson, 24, thought they would be priced out of Hackney, but Help to Buy has allowed them to stay.
They have bought one of five new flats in a Grade II –listed Georgian townhouse at NestEast’s scheme, 15 Clapton Square.
“Help to Buy definitely made the purchase happen for us and we decided to take the 20 per cent interest-free loan, which has given us the opportunity to get a foot on the ladder,” says Jack.
Local transport links appealed, along with the close proximity to greenery with the Lee Valley.
Trainee architect Rebecca was attracted to the building’s period features, including pilasters, sashes, panelled doors, porches, cast-iron balconies and extra-high original Georgian skirting boards.
Interior designer Seniz Gokdemir and recruitment manager Sam Jaffe, both 30, were renting a one-bedroom flat in Enfield Chase but wanted to upsize.
Using the London Help to Buy scheme, the couple took their first step on to the property ladder with a three-bedroom duplex flat in Waltham Forest at Endeavour, the Fairview New Homes development in Highams Park E4.
“We had been saving for several years but once we discovered how London Help to Buy could help us shrink our deposit, we thought it would be the best way on to the property ladder and we turned our attention to new builds,” says Seniz.
Two-bedroom apartments at Endeavour are priced from £385,000. Call 020 3918 4606.
For some tenants Help to Buy is the only affordable access to a home in the capital. Michael was living in Essex. After saving for a deposit for seven years he bought in Legacy Wharf in Stratford E15.
“I was rather frugal with my money, investing it smartly and putting aside a large percentage of my salary every month to obtain a sufficient deposit. I always said I wanted a large enough deposit so that the monthly repayments would not change my current lifestyle,” he says.
He paid £389,500 for his one-bedroom apartment with a balcony on the fourth floor.
Legacy Wharf is a collection of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with a gym and a concierge service, amid shops and landscaped gardens.
“The apartments were priced competitively with good incentives for first-time buyers. I also really like the location,” says Michael.
Prices at Legacy Wharf start from £386,500. Call Bellway Homes on 020 3092 9383.