It is leafy, lovely, and world famous thanks to its international tennis tournament. Wimbledon, in south west London, has been named the capital’s most in-demand location.
A series of affluent south west London locations dominate the league table of the most-searched locations of the past year, according to Rightmove.
Alongside SW19, buyers have been keenly house-hunting close by, everywhere from Kingston upon Thames to Chelsea.
Buyers have also been exploring value-for-money suburbs on the fringes of the city and the Home Counties, according to the poll; think places such as Sutton, Romford, and Orpington.
Other big hitters are a group of urban villages – from the eternally-popular Hampstead, for buyers with deep pockets, alongside grittier options like Walthamstow.
This analysis of where buyer interest has been at its highest is crucial to anyone considering a move in 2023, and anxious about the prospects for future price growth.
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Because the performance of the housing market relies on a delicate balance of supply and demand – too much of the former and prices will subside like a souffle removed too early from the oven, plenty of the latter and prices will continue to rise.
The south-west London wealth corridor
Stretching from Chelsea and Fulham right out to the borders with Surrey, a ripple of affluent buyers have made the A3 corridor a copper-bottomed property hotspot.
And Wimbledon is the hottest of all – London’s most-searched area on Rightmove over the past year. ‘I think that it is because of all the open space we have,’ said Paul De Havilland, senior negotiator at Robert Holmes and Co estate agents. ‘I think that when you have been through a pandemic that is particularly attractive to people, as well as the fact that we have very good transport links, schools, and amenities.’
While homes in Wimbledon Village can trade for several million pounds, down the hill in Wimbledon town De Havilland estimates that a typical three-bedroom period house would cost around £1.4million. Buyers tend to be young professional families selling flats in more expensive central London locations.
Partly because of its high prices Wimbledon has seen solid, but not spectacular, price growth of five per cent in the past year and 13 per cent in the past five years, according to Hamptons.
Looking forward, De Havilland suspects the area won’t suffer any significant price falls this year, whatever happens in the wider economy. ‘There is a terrible shortage of stock,’ he said. ‘I think that a lot of people are just sitting tight and waiting to see what happens, and demand is still strong, so I can’t see price falls coming.’
Wimbledon may have won the popularity contest but the real winner of the wealth corridor – in terms of price growth – is Richmond. As buyers flow out of more expensive central London locations in search of space and greenery its prices have shot upwards, by 13 per cent in the past year, and 27 per cent in the past five years, to an average of £645,000.
In December Ash Appleton moved to another of today’s hotspots – Chiswick. Ash, an interior designer (anafricaneye.com), had been living in Tulse Hill but fancied a move west. ‘I wanted something not too suburban, and close to water,’ she said. An estate agent suggested she try Chiswick, and Ash, 56, was quickly smitten. In December she moved into a rented one-bedroom flat, which costs £1,550pcm, and she hopes to buy in the area in the next few years.
‘For me, Chiswick occupies that sweet spot between gritty, city London on one hand, and the predictable suburbs,’ said Ash. ‘I love the proximity to the river, historical buildings, green open spaces like Richmond and Kew; and then being able to hop on a bus to Westfield.
‘The first time I walked down Chiswick High Road I did a little internal happy dance – there’s such a vibrant mix of independent and chain stores, cafes, and restaurants.’
Everybody loves the idea of an urban village, with lots of local shops and restaurants plus a laid-back, friendly vibe.
For Luke Collins this can only mean one thing: Ealing. Luke, 31, was born in nearby Hanwell, spent his schooldays in Ealing, and having tried out other parts of London has been tempted back by a mixture of convenience and contacts.
‘Most of my family and friends live in Ealing so I found that I was always travelling back there and so I thought I might as well just live there,’ said Luke, a hairdresser and manager of the Steve Diligence hair salon in Notting Hill, who lives in a one-bedroom flat south of Ealing Broadway. Ealing has become increasingly popular thanks to Crossrail and its prices have grown by 16 per cent in the past five years, to just over £660,000, found Hamptons.
Again, houses have been the driving force of growth in the past year, up nine per cent – while the average price of a flat slipped by one per cent which means that now might be a good time to haggle hard for a bargain. For Luke, the best thing about Ealing is its great range of restaurants, from No 17 at Dickens Yard to the Hare & Tortoise (with special mention to the amazing ice cream at Amorino on Ealing Green).
It is, he admits, quite suburban. ‘If I only ever stayed in Ealing I would be bored out of my wits, but I work in Notting Hill and go out to places like White City House,’ he said. ‘But Ealing is home and you don’t always want to have to travel to go out and then pay £100 to get a taxi home.’
The other popular village options include Hampstead. It is, naturally, the most expensive address with average prices topping £1million. It saw 11 per cent of price growth in the past year, found Hamptons, boosting its five-year growth to a moderate 12 per cent.
Hip Walthamstow is a grittier type of urban village, and its appeal to singles and young families has helped prices grow 16 per cent over the past five years to almost £560,000. Houses are, post pandemic, far more in demand than flats increasing in price by an average eight per cent in the past year. Flat prices inched up by four per cent in the same period.
Surbiton might be interesting buyers but, to date, that hasn’t translated into serious inflation. Its prices grew twoper cent last year, and eight per cent over the last five, hitting an average of £595,000.
Value for money on the fringes
Many buyers virtually searching for a London home last year headed to the city limits – as interest rates rise buyers are being squeezed further out in search of a home they can afford.
This means that locations such as Beckenham and Orpington, with average prices up ten and nine per cent in the past year against a UK average of five per cent, are already outperforming.
Orpington, which officially became part of London in the 1960s, was also the joint strongest performer over the past five years (alongside Croydon), with prices up 24 per cent.
‘That will be because of the schools,’ said Diane Elliott-Hale, branch manager of Alan de Maid estate agents in Orpington. ‘Parents come from all over London to get them into St Olave’s Grammar School [boys] and Newstead Wood School [girls], grammar), which is where tennis player Emma Raducanu went.’
Although grammar schools tend not to operate catchment area systems, homes a short walk from either school sell at a premium, said Elliott-Hale. Expect to pay around £850,000 for a three-bedroom 1930s house close to the schools, or around £700,000 to £750,000 for a similar property a little further away. There are fewer flats on offer in Orpington, but a purpose-built two-bed apartment would cost around £350,000.
Orpington is not the only London-fringe location with great schools. Olivia and James Cooke decided to move from Peckham to Sidcup precisely because of its great senior school options for their daughters Emily, eight, and Mia, four.
‘Also it meant that we were much closer to our parents, and there are all these lovely places to go for walks,’ added full-time mother Olivia, 43.
She and James, 42, who works in finance, had made a great investment on a three-bedroom house in Peckham, where they lived for eight years. In the meantime, the London Overground had arrived, the whole area had been reinvented as London’s hipster capital, and they sold for just over £1million. In 2018 they bought a ‘much larger’ four-bedroom house with a large garden in Sidcup for just over £700,000.
When Olivia takes the half-hour train ride into central London nowadays she finds the noise and crowds a bit unappealing, although she does miss her friends back in Peckham, as well as its outstanding cafes and restaurants.
‘It is a trade off,’ she said. ‘The selection of shops and bars is not as good here, but we have got all this lovely countryside. And everybody here is incredibly friendly. It is a happy place to live.’
London’s most in demand neighbourhoods
4. Kingston upon Thames
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