Six of the best areas for first-time buyers to house hunt this spring

With a four-day break coming up, and two May bank holidays hot on its heels, this is the ideal time to take your house hunt off the laptop and on to the streets.

A travelcard and an open mind are all first-time buyers need to explore some of the best developments and locations in and around the capital.

Here’s our hot list of where to look for your first home in or near the capital. 

East London: best for new builds

Just south of Hackney Wick, Fish Island Village is a new waterfront community beside the Hertford Union Canal in a great location with the increasingly impressive Olympic Park on one side and Victoria Park on the other. 

The six-acre scheme, which includes a collaboration between housing association Peabody and housebuilder Hill, has homes, plus studios for artists, designers and start-ups.

There are social spaces, too, and it’s walking distance to both Stratford and Hackney Wick stations.

One-bedroom flats start from £522,500 and two-bedroom flats from £592,000.

For more bang for your buck, Lime Quarter in Bromley-by-Bow is also in E3, close to Devons Road DLR station.

It’s in a reasonably authentic slice of the East End, where boozers co-exist with gastropubs, Roman Road Market is the place to buy your fruit and veg, and there are on-site workspaces for home workers. Prices start from £427,500.

Tooting: for period homes in south London

Buyers priced out of Balham, Brixton, or Battersea should consider their low-profile neighbour Tooting, where a budget of £400,000 will stretch to a two-bedroom period flat.

Comparative affordability aside, Tooting is showing all the signs of becoming a really great place to live as new cafés, bars and restaurants open up, replacing takeaways and grimy boozers, led by Graveney and Meadow with its tapas menu and great garden.

Tooting Arts Club adds a bit of culture, while fans of pedal power can use a Cycle Superhighway to reach the city. Tooting station is in Zone 3 with services to Waterloo and Blackfriars in around half an hour.

John-Paul Burrough of Marsh & Parsons says Tooting Bec Common, with its lido and weekly park runs, is a massive selling point for the area.

Woolwich: for new homes in south-east London

The arrival of Crossrail will make Woolwich a particularly hot property ticket this year, and over the past 13 years Berkeley Homes has built hundreds of new homes at Royal Arsenal Riverside, repurposing a historic military stronghold by the Thames.

On April 28 buyers will get the first chance to take a look at Navigator Wharf, the latest tranche of homes by Berkeley Homes at this vast waterfront site.

Prices start at £480,000 for a one-bedroom home with an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area and double aspect bedroom, and the homes overlook either the river or the new four acre Maribor Park.

All have a private terraces or balconies, and buyers will be able to use the site’s private pool, sauna, steam room, gym, residents’ gardens, and a cinema room. 

Clapham: for new homes in south-west London

Another new option is York Gardens, a 26-acre estate development in Clapham which will feature more than 2,500 new homes plus plenty of on-site amenities including parks, cafes, restaurants, shops, and leisure facilities to add to everything that Battersea and Clapham, both within walking distance, have to offer. 

The project is the first chapter of a £1bn reboot of the unloved Winstanley and York Road Estate – a grim post war swathe of blocks where members of the So Solid Crew grew up and which was once synonymous with gangs, crime, and drugs. 

The first homes went on sale this month priced from £379,000 and the first residents will be able to move in next year although it is estimated that the project will take around a decade to complete.

Transport connections are excellent – Clapham Junction is just up the road – and the homes feature stylish bare brick balconies, bright interiors with walls of windows.

There is also a residents’ lounge and a communal roof terrace. 

Winchester: for commuters

City living without London prices? Of the half-a-dozen or so cities within an easy train journey of the capital, it is lovely Winchester, on the edge of the South Downs, which really stands out.

It is small enough to be easily walkable, and has the atmosphere of a London village with scenic water meadows. The commute to Waterloo takes just over an hour. 

While it lacks nightlife, Winchester is certainly not dull. It has a mini cinema set up in an old Scout hut, a theatre and annual festivals including events devoted to wine, short films and poetry.

It also has a full complement of cafés and pubs and some great restaurants, notably The Black Rat — Michelin-star — and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Kitchen.

The nicest areas to live in are St Cross, Fulflood and Hyde, small enclaves of period houses all within a 10-minute walk of the city centre.

Expect to pay about £450,000 for a two-up two-down cottage, or around £650,000 for a three-bedroom terrace house. A two-bedroom flat would cost between £350,000 and £400,000.

Canary Wharf: for buyers who want to cut the commute

According to a new report 70 per cent of people who live in cities would feel happier with their lives if they lived closer to work, and almost half of all Londoners would consider moving nearer to the office – anything to avoid the tube scrum in the morning.

For those who work in Canary Wharf a home at Wood Wharf, a multi-million pound regeneration project by the Canary Wharf Group.

Its first homes, at One Park Drive, are on sale now and residents will get a private fitness centre, a club, and a sky terrace as part of the deal.

Prices start from £825,000 for a one bedroom flat.


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