Feb 19, 2012

Location Location Location – West/South Hampstead

In my last blog entry I wrote about property prices in the affluent areas of London, and why property prices are holding in the affluent areas. West Hampstead (this includes South Hampstead) is a unique area because it has three mainline stations, you have the Underground Jubilee Line Station, the Overground Station and the Thameslink, and these excellent transport links have made the area very popular with the city slickers. Being in zone two it has quick and easy access into the city. As an agent I used to describe to prospective buyers and renters that West Hampstead has a village type feel which is another attraction of the area, but now days I find it difficult to say this as in the past few years we have seen the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury move in so the local family businesses and boutiques are slowly vanishing.

You may or may not be surprised to learn that West Hampstead has the second highest number of estate agencies in London, a whopping 37 agencies, it was 40 at one point! As you walk down West End Lane, every other shop you will notice an estate agent. We used to have our own offices on West End Lane, until we received an offer which was difficult to refuse and we sold our premises to a restaurant and takeaway business. Along with estate agents, café’s, coffee shops and restaurants are also plentiful in West Hampstead.

My family had been in business in West Hampstead for more than thirty years and we have seen how the area has evolved. Due to the location, transport links and the character of the area it has been very popular with young affluent professionals. The lettings and sales market has always been buoyant in West/South Hampstead. Even during the tough times when prices have been falling elsewhere in the country, West Hampstead has managed to hold its own and buck the trend; such is the appeal of the area.

The prices in West/South Hampstead have been high for some time and the crash in 2008 did not seem to have much impact but I have seen signs in the last 6 months that the prices are correcting in the area. As the lending has become tighter and with the risk of redundancies, the high flying city slickers have become more cautious and are not prepared to splash out on properties like they used to. A few of months back I saw there was a two bedroom flat being marketed in South Hampstead for £749,950 (Leasehold) it had no buyers for several months and then in the end it sold at the end of last year for £649,950. That is a whopping 100k less than the asking price. This perhaps shows that the high prices people were prepared to pay to be located in West/South Hampstead might be fading slightly. You see it is all about valuing a property correctly, evaluate what the property has to offer and do not be afraid of putting in lower offers (by that I mean realistic low offers not absurd offers), what’s the worst that could happen it will be rejected. The important thing is to evaluate a property correctly so that you offer the right price; take into account the location, the size of the property (how much space are you getting for your money?), the quality of the property (is the property in good condition, consider if you will need to spend any money on the property), make comparisons with other properties in the area and have a look at past sold property prices in the area. Valuing a property is not dependant one thing alone, you have to weigh up and consider all the different factors.

I am not saying that the prices in West/South Hampstead are going to fall dramatically or you will be able to pick up bargains, but I do believe that the prices are going to be more realistic and you will have a better chance of paying market value prices now, as vendors who cannot sell their properties, are much more open to offers. Provided that you buy wisely, I think that you can never go wrong if you buy a property in West/South Hampstead. It has always had an excellent buy-to-let market, the rental incomes have always been consistently high and at present they are at an all-time high. For investors West/South Hampstead is still at the top of my recommended areas, it will never lose its appeal. The transport links are being improved, the Thameslink station has been vastly improved with a grand ticket office now on Iverson Road which has lift access, making it ready to handle the high volumes of commuters which will pass through West Hampstead during the Olympics. Both the West Hampstead Jubilee Line and Overground Line go to Stratford, so West Hampstead will be a thriving transport hub during the Olympics and savvy landlords would be wise to cash in on short-term holiday lets!

The Agency currently has two superb brand new flats for Sale in South Hampstead





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