More space for your money: save thousands on average house prices by switching to a home counties postcode
Commuter hotspots Northwood and Rickmansworth are just three miles apart on the Metropolitan Tube line. They both have thriving high streets and good schools.
Yet homes in Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire are 57 per cent cheaper on average than in Northwood in north-west London.
In percentage terms it’s the largest discount to be had when moving from a town just inside the Greater London boundary to its closest home counties counterpart, and equates to £150,795.
A new study has analysed pairs of towns around the London clockface to find the biggest bargains for home buyers, achievable just by moving across the line.
What to buy on the Greater London border
Where to look for house price savings
The average property price falls 44.6 per cent from Upminster in the London borough of Havering to Basildon in Essex — a saving of £226,378 — and 42.8 per cent from Enfield to Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire, saving £221,378, the Savills research found.
“House prices are often based on the speed of railway services into the capital and the number of good local schools,” says Marcus Bradbury-Ross, of buying agency The London Resolution. For example, Upminster is on the Tube line, albeit at the end, and nearby Basildon, with its far cheaper homes, is not. “There is also the snob factor. Regional snobbery is a quirk of the British people,” says Bradbury-Ross.
So, for Londoners trying to get on the property ladder or upsizing to accommodate a growing family, where are the best places to cross the line?
Buying in Northwood or Rickmansworth
Properties in Northwood typically cost an eye-watering £802,505, owing to the rows of multimillion-pound homes that pull up the average, compared to £651,710 in Rickmansworth.
“The main factor separating Rickmansworth and Northwood is almost certainly location,” says Marc von Grundherr, director at London estate agents Benham & Reeves.
“In Zone 6, Northwood still provides that label of London homeowner. While this may sound minor when considered in the bigger picture of house hunting, it’s these small things that can influence people when buying a property.”
Rickmansworth also has more housing stock, explains Savills’ Graeme Warren. The most desirable roads include The Drive, Valley Road and The Clump which are all within walking distance of the station. Victorian cottages in need of modernising cost around £500,000.
Berkeley Homes is building 48 apartments 0.2 miles from the high street in Rickmansworth. Homes at Elmswater start from £570,000. Call 01923 882484.
Buying in Woodford or Loughton
Woodford, on the very edge of east London, has a little high street with an artisanal feel, dotted with independent cafés, a wine shop and a Turkish restaurant. It’s on the Central line Tube which takes 25 minutes into Bank, but schools are the big draw, says Mark Lawrinson of estate agents Portico.
This explains the 37 per cent price hike in Woodford over nearby Loughton — which is only two more stops on the Tube. This Essex town has a long high street with mainstream stores.
On the edge of Epping Forest, Loughton grew up in the middle of the Victorian age with the arrival of the Eastern Counties Railway in 1856 and is dominated by worker cottages from this era.
“Woodford benefits from the more obvious draws over Loughton such as a closer proximity to the city but it also has a better reputation amongst home buyers,” says Von Grundherr of Benham & Reeves. “However, as London continues to push buyers out, the ripple effect of those looking for more affordable accommodation has already started to improve the area dramatically.”
From £415,000: two bedroom apartments at Infinity in Loughton, just two Tube stops further than Woodford
First-time buyers shouldn’t disregard Loughton, as the area is likely to see some strong price increases over the coming years, he advises.
There are seven two-bedroom apartments left at Crest Nicholson’s Infinity scheme in Loughton. Prices start from £415,000 with Help to Buy available. For more information call 020 3437 0490.
Buying in Coulsdon or Caterham
Coulsdon is at the leafy southern tip of the borough of Croydon and the average house price is £502,008.
Colm Lacey, chief executive of the local developer Brick by Brick which was established by Croydon council in 2016 to accelerate new homes delivery, describes Coulsdon as “a hidden gem in south London” with a fast rail service into central London but on the edge of the green belt.
“It also has a characterful, established town centre. The area has really high-quality existing housing stock, as well as great schools, which means it’s attracting young families and it is very well connected into central London,” Lacey says.
It’s only a 14-minute drive between Coulsdon and the Surrey suburb of Caterham but the train journey from central London is 25 minutes longer to the latter. This would explain the difference in house prices. Homes in Caterham cost, on average, 17.3 per cent, or £86,920, less than those in Coulsdon.
“In the past Caterham’s image suffered due to the notoriety of the Caterham Asylum but today it offers very good value for those looking to buy, with a good degree of regeneration and new housing also set to boost the local area,” says Von Grundherr. In Caterham, Hamptons has a four double-bedroom house for sale with modern, open-plan kitchen, priced £550,000. Call 01883 338514.
Where to buy nearer London
It isn’t always the case that the urban area on the edge of London is cheaper than its home counties counterpart.
“As a general rule we’d expect that the closer you get to London the higher the house prices, but this analysis shows us the importance of looking beyond the averages and of understanding the factors that affect those house prices,” says Frances Clacy of Savills.
Buying in Surbiton
Surbiton in south-west London is far cheaper than nearby towns in Surrey’s stockbroker belt. Prices are 51.7 per cent higher in Claygate and 88.2 per cent higher in Esher.
Better value: Surbiton, in south-west London, is cheaper than towns in Surrey’s stockbroker belt which are slightly further out (Shutterstock / Flyby Photography)
Buying in Chessington or Oxshott
The most dramatic price increase, the research revealed, is between Chessington and Oxshott. Just three miles apart, the average house price in Oxshott, which is full of private gated communities and hidden mansions, is 318 per cent higher than in Chessington, the small residential area in the borough of Kingston that was put on the map by its theme park and has two train stations.
“Much of Oxshott is owned by the Crown Estate. As a result, this is where the higher prices are achieved and consequently where aspirant purchasers try to buy,” says Bradbury-Ross of The London Revolution.
Buying in Sunbury-on-Thames
Family plans: Lee Jones and Tatiana Khrol, with Ollie the cat, needed a bigger home (Richard Eaton)
Self-employed Lee Jones, 37, and his partner Tatiana Khrol, 36, have bought a new two-bedroom home at Park Avenue by Crest Nicholson in Lower Sunbury, Surrey.
They moved from Richmond — six miles from Sunbury and where house prices are 50 per cent higher — to get “a much bigger property for our money” as they are expecting their first child this year.
They bought their flat for £410,000 using the Help to Buy scheme.
Two-bedroom apartments at Park Avenue are now available from £439,950, while prices for three-bedroom homes begin at £734,950.
Buying in Waltham Abbey
Upsizers: Danielle Laws with sons Teddy and Charlie and daughter Betsy at home in Waltham Abbey, where a new five-bedroom house was within the family budget (Simon Jacobs)
The Laws family have upsized to Waltham Abbey where they could afford a new five-bedroom house with a large garden for their three young children Teddy, Charlie and Betsy.
The Essex town is 19.3 per cent cheaper than Chingford, just the other side of the Greater London boundary. “Boudicca Gardens is perfect for our family. Now we live in a quiet cul-de-sac, the children are safe to roam outside the front of the house and have a little run around on their bikes and scooters. We have been able to AstroTurf the back garden for football-mad Teddy and have also put a goal in to keep him occupied,” says stay-at-home mum Danielle.
Homes at Boudicca Gardens, by GO Homes, start from £875,000.