1. SOUTHWARK: Borough and Bermondsey soar in shadow of Shard
SE1 has seen huge growth in both popularity and prices over the past few years. As the corporates have moved in the area has become increasingly trendy – Maltby Street Market and boutique-strewn Bermondsey Street complement Borough Market and the phenomenal redevelopment going on around the Shard.
As well as a host of modern residential developments, the area has seen a change in perception to become an attractive destination for young professionals that allows them to walk to work in the City, while offering super-fast connections to the West End, wider South London and Kent. The area offers riverside living at (marginally) more affordable price than other locations, while wider Bermondsey is now also benefitting from the droves of corporates, start-ups and young professionals flocking to the area. Further price growth is anticipated as London Bridge rail improvements and the Thameslink upgrade complete; as other Zone 1 destinations price out first-time buyers there are still opportunities to secure good returns with your first step on to the property ladder.
2. HACKNEY: Dalston, Hoxton, Haggerston ride tech boom
Hackney is a wise choice to buy into, especially any areas that border Islington, which is a well-established London hotspot. It's fair to say we've seen significant changes over the past few years, with the East London Line extension of the Overground network making Hackney much more accessible and therefore a very attractive place to live for those who work in the booming financial or tech sectors. That said, Hackney is continuing to change and change fast... the delights of London Fields, Victoria Park, De Beauvoir, making trendy locales such as Dalston, Haggerston, Shoreditch and Hoxton great places of interest for savvy first-time buyers prepared to hunt down a bargain. Hackney is also supremely well placed to benefit from the drive of buyers seeking 'added value' by finding the perfect point to enter the market.
It's a bit like surfing – you've got to work out where the wave of rapidly rising values is breaking and get your timing just right. Get it spot-on and you can buy somewhere just on the cusp of being the next big thing, with a few months of moving in you should see strong price rises. Being on the periphery of Islington as the ripple effect spreads East, means you can still spot a bargain at prices lower than trendy neighbouring areas, safe in the knowledge that you'll be in the right place at the right time to benefit from rapidly rising values.
3. DOCKLANDS: Corporate powerhouse with room to boom
Unlike some parts of central London, there's still plenty of room for prices to rise in Canary Wharf. The expansion of the Canary Wharf estate eastwards into Wood Wharf and its proposed diversification away from banking will expand the working population of Canary Wharf and areas close by will benefit. There are numerous high end residential developments under construction and due for completion between 2016 and 2019 and it is likely that these new developments will further gentrify the area but also are likely to "drag up" property values in existing developments nearby. Buying an existing property within 100m of an expensive high-end development due for completion 1-3 years down the line would seem a decent bet for any first-time buyer with one eye on future capital growth.
The transport links in the Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs & Poplar are already very good, and this will be further burgeoned by the coming of Crossrail in 2018. Properties within 250 to 500m of the new Crossrail stations will show the largest growth (though some of this is already priced in to today's values), though properties within 1km of Crossrail stations should also benefit.
4. BRENTFORD: Riverside regeneration steams ahead
Brentford is undergoing major modernisation, which will transform the look and appeal of the town centre and make it really attractive place to live. This extensive regeneration will deliver a mix of shops, cafés, restaurants and office and community space, as well as significant new residential development, some of which benefit from attractive riverside locations. The existing Market Square on the north side of the High Street will be incorporated into a new larger town square and the river and canal will be opened up with new paths and mooring facilities, while a marina has also been proposed. The rejuvenation of the Sunday Market has also added to Brentford's growing reputation for its friendly community and vibrant weekend lifestyle and leisure offering.
With a good number of affordable homes planned, it's not surprising that first-time buyers are targeting Brentford in their droves – it's already an attractive area for many young professionals who want good access to the West End and the City. Brentford and Kew Bridge stations provide excellent links to Waterloo, and mean this new property hotspot is experiencing a booming surge in activity. Brentford is handy for Heathrow too, meaning those with overseas connections or frequent flyers are well served.
5. GREENWICH & BLACKHEATH: An attractive remove for financial sector workers
The Greenwich & Blackheath property market has shown signs of strong growth, especially over the past year or so, with the post-election uncertainty of 2015 well and truly out of the way – record prices are now being seen for the area. Buyers typical to Greenwich & Blackheath are from within the UK and the majority are first time buyers moving in a southerly or easterly direction from Canary Wharf or the City, where continued future price growth and good affordability are strong factors in deciding for buying a first home or apartment.
There is a growing demand towards the Greenwich Peninsula, where a further 10,000 new homes are being built, offering a similar sort of housing mix and lifestyle as the booming residential developments of Canary Wharf. Good transport links remains a key attraction of the area, with trains, Tubes, the DLR, bus and even water routes offering easy access to the City and Canary Wharf. There's plenty of green space too and a range of good cafés, restaurants, bars and boutiques for relaxing after work or at weekends.
6. NEWHAM: The 'Olympicopolis' effect a torch for first-time buyers
Newham has been a first-time buyers' paradise since the Olympics came to town in 2012. There has been much written about the conversion of the former athletes' village, the repurposing of the Olympic Park itself, culminating in West Ham United taking over the tenancy of the main stadium from 2016/17 season, while the Rugby World Cup also saw games hosted on the site. These high levels of interest have led to a great deal of speculative development, and Newham has remained among the top few boroughs in London for building new and affordable home as part of the ongoing Olympic legacy – leading pundits and developers to outline a vision of an 'Olympicopolis' that can spear-head housing, retail and employment for the area and wider North East London as a whole.
The area has already benefitted in recent years from the Westfield Shopping Centre at Stratford and transport upgrades to coincide with the Olympics arriving in town, so its hotspot status is no real surprise. Land availability is still relatively good, so expect the house-building boom to continue for some time to come. Average prices of £321,005 mean it is still relatively affordable, too, so good news for first-time purchasers all round.
7. HARINGEY: Crossrail powers Tottenham regeneration
Haringey has become something of a hotspot of late, as the market surges North East in a wave of gentrification. There are major infrastructure and regeneration improvements coming down the line, with the arrival of Crossrail 1 & 2, the Tottenham Hale regeneration scheme, housing estates renewal and Tottenham Hotspur FC's White Hart Lane stadium redevelopment. Haringey also came on top of Chestertons recent 'Green boroughs' research, owing to the amount of green space open to residents, including Finsbury Park. Commuting into King's Cross is also very convenient, meaning the regeneration there is also having positive knock-on effects in terms of improved employment opportunities within easy commute of relatively affordable homes.
There's a decent level of residential development and good availability of unmodernised traditional properties offering first-time buyers a first foot on the ladder and average prices are among the capital's more affordable, and though they have risen by more than 50% in the past five years, there is still plenty of room for upwards growth, especially when the various lighthouse regeneration projects are complete.
8. CLAPHAM JUNCTION: Magnetic effect of Battersea Power Station redevelopment
Over the past few years, Battersea has become increasingly popular among first-time buyers moving across the river from areas such as Fulham and Chelsea, all looking for the same thing: more affordable prices without compromising on lifestyle. The trendy Northcote Road offers a similar vibe to the Kings Road with its array of boutique shops and restaurants, renowned as weekend brunch hangouts; be prepared to queue though! Another pull factor is the proximity to the wide open spaces of Clapham Common and Battersea Park, which offer a variety of activities every day of the week, somewhat absent in its SW sisters north of the river.
Home to Europe's busiest train station, Clapham Junction is a commuters' paradise with numerous trains running every minute to various locations across London and routes to many other parts of the country. When Crossrail 2 arrives that will be another connection to a major London rail artery for commuters to utilise. And with the regeneration of Nine Elms including thousands of new homes, a new shopping district and the addition of two Zone 1 underground stations, it's no wonder the area is attracting investors with an eye to the future.