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The growing appeal of housing outside of LondonA few weeks ago I mentioned the interesting trend we are currently seeing in the UK house market - namely, the marked move to a less London-centric landscape.

Indeed, at the time we had just learnt that while residential property sales had begun to stagnate in the capital, cities such as Manchester and Sheffield in the North were looking set to enjoy their own period of growth.

A month or so on and it turns out the trend is spreading - and this time, in some cases, it's much closer to home.

There are, of course, reasons for this - London's centre, for example, is now almost completely inaccessible, except to the mega-rich. And as the middle classes move further and further away from the celebrated Zone 1', much of capital's growing population are leaving London all together in favour of regional hubs and commuter towns.

But what else is luring Londoners away from the capital

Well it's all down to factors such as new-build homes, regional development and the help-to-buy scheme that make hotspots out of London much more desirable. In fact, jumps have been recorded in areas as far away from London as Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, North Dorset and in particular Bristol - where number of homes sold nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014.

There is little doubt that potential buyers are choosing to leave behind the cramped streets of London in favour of the countryside, which is seeing a surge in popularity.

This should not come as a surprise. London's ongoing (and severe) issue of lack of affordable housing coupled with drastically increasing prices of those properties that are available means the capital is out of reach for many - especially young or first-time buyers who struggle to get on to the property ladder. The bottom line, it seems, is that there simply aren't enough homes for London's growing population.

So where are the crowds flocking

One solution for potential home buyers is, of course, to relocate to the surrounding commuter towns. Recently, there has been a rise in people buying in towns in areas such as Surrey or Hampshire - most notable amongst these perhaps is Winchester, where the majority of buyers are young families commuting to London.

However, market towns are certainly receiving a formally unprecedented amount of attention - especially in areas such as Kent and Wiltshire while some as far afield as Devon! These are now viewed as a social cachet', the result of this being that the average price of property in a market town is now £25,000 above average of the rest of country. Buyers are being drawn to the friendlier local atmospheres and good schools, and market towns are no longer just an option for a second home, but for those wanting to leave London all together.

This all makes sense - especially when you look at the figures. Moving away from London and commuting in could save those working in the capital an average of £380,000. In towns such as Wellingborough, Kettering, and Peterborough - all within just 70 minutes of central London - the average price of a home is less than £174,000. Needless to say an annual train ticket detracts little from the savings that can be made here.

Although this may not slow down the rapidly increasing prices of central London properties, it does at least provide some alternatives for those willing to commute - or even relocate entirely! And all good news for the wider UK property market of course

*Eddie Goldsmith is Chairman of the Conveyancing Association and Senior Partner at Goldsmith Williams


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    Moving the market to a less London-centric landscape has its good opportunities. Regional development is "viral" so it would be great to locate your business closer to the consumer.

    • 30 April 2015 13:27 PM
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