Talk to most young people living in London and they will tell you they are struggling. They appreciate the access to clubs, art galleries, theatres and restaurants, but the cost of living – rent, council tax and commuting – means that few can afford regular evenings out. A supper in, with a bottle of wine and a box set, is often a nightly reality.
Whilst property prices have fallen in London they are still high and are leading to an exodus of people in their 30’s from the capital to more affordable areas. Greater mortgage accessibility, reduced rates of SDLT for properties under £937,000, and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme have created opportunities for first time buyers, which is stimulating activity in the housing market from the bottom up. These factors have created a stronger property market locally than in London, although there is still quite a lot of ‘sitting on the fence’.
A report from the Resolution Foundation think-tank said high housing costs meant more people were leaving London than arriving from the rest of the UK, and this is one of the reasons we are seeing more people from London buying and renting from us.
Milly English from the London office says, “We get a lot of enquiries for property in Suffolk and North Essex from people with young families who are looking to bring up their children in a cleaner and better environment.
“They look towards schooling, the delight of walking to school, un-congested roads, vast playing fields and the all-important fresh country air. Improvements to the A11 and A12 and the quicker trains have helped but the popularity is not surprising.
“Historically wealthy, thanks to its wool trade, the area is full of pretty villages with many fine houses and cottages. The gently rolling landscapes, captured by many artists; most notably John Constable, the beautiful coast with smokehouses, fresh fish and oysters available almost everywhere, excellent pubs and artisan bakeries have all helped to attract those looking for a better quality of life.
“Housing, of course, is cheaper but so is a pint in the pub and with some of the most glorious countryside in the UK, the move becomes irresistible. Most of our contact with the early or late retirees, however, does not come from the people living in London. Although they may work in the capital, they have moved out and now commute from the Home Counties.”
Tim Rutter, David Burr managing director, based in the Castle Hedingham office agrees with Milly. “Many of the prospective buyers that I meet are from the south and they usually have a strong connection to the region. This may be from childhood holidays or they could have children and grandchildren nearby and being within easy access, will allow them to be a part of their lives.
“An often-repeated comment is how quiet it is in our area and how dark it can be at night. We have little light pollution, so to enjoy and appreciate the night sky is a delight. And, of course, most importantly the family dog can get away from the pavements and traffic and run free.”
When I bump into our buyers after they have been in their new home for a while, the inevitable comment is: “We wish we had done it earlier!”
At our office in St James’s, potential purchasers are able to discuss their requirements with professional qualified staff, who can answer questions about prices, market conditions, commuting times and schools. They can then search the database and are given brochures of suitable properties. We are in a unique position to harness these potential buyers with prominent street level offices plus large window displays.