Where to buy… When to buy…
Uncertainty is the enemy of the property market, but it never lasts forever, invest in the most you can, house or flat
Column by Elizabeth S Moore
It has to be said that I am an unashamed South of the River girl. I have, like so many Londoners, picked a five mile square area and never really moved out of it. Everywhere I go I have to travel via Sloane Square, and my bridge of choice is always Chelsea, unless it’s Albert.
When it comes to putting my money where my mouth is, things are different. As I said last month, it’s sticky out there, and when things are difficult in any investment arena you should do a bit of spread betting and buy as much as you can with your money. In the case of property, that means space. There really aren’t many places left in London where you are able to do this with a smallish deposit and limited mortgage choices, so my advice would always be to get a map of the rough area you like and drive around it looking for the fringes which haven’t tidied themselves up yet.
Take leafy Balham, Wandsworth, Tooting and Streatham. Well, take them if you can, as they have already been gentrified and with one bed flats retailing around the £450,000 mark, and looking resistantly stuck at that level, you have a choice between not being able to swing a cat, or looking further afield. I will give you an example. Walk half a mile from Tooting to where the houses are a grid of 1930s and Victorian properties, and you will come to Figges Marsh, where the postcodes become Mitcham, and the pubs still have sticky wooden floors. No gentrification here, but all the ingredients for exactly that to happen are in place. Good housing stock, solid with gardens, a grid of houses and outside space both at Figges Marsh or in the other direction Streatham Common, also an easy stroll. Good transport links are in place, with the possibility of another station on the way.
These are the things to look out for, this is what you parents probably did, bought a big solid family house that had been neglected, stripped the walls, tidied up the garden, put in central heating. Buy one, for the same price as the one bed flat that looks pretty but will give you little return financially or in terms of quality of life. Make it your own, uncover the fireplaces and plant vegetables. There is something about living in space that enhances the every day, and having your own front door is a special thing.
There is a dip at the moment, and uncertainty is the enemy of the property market, but it never lasts forever and soon you will be reading headlines of the turnaround in a previously unfashionable area that you dismissed because there was a cool bar next to a new build. Look in the corridor from Streatham down to Croydon, or off the Edgeware Road, do your research and look at maps.