Watford properties top London buyers' wish lists

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Living near a tube station is the holy grail for Londoners - but the most popular stop for homebuyers isn't even in the capital.

According to a survey from online estate agent eMoov.co.uk, the most in-demand station on the tube network - in terms of the total number of properties sold in comparison to the number on sale - is Watford.

The 78% rating comes despite the fact that the town is outside greater London, in Hertfordshire. But buyers be warned: there are plans to move the tube station to Watford Junction, meaning the area may not stay this popular for long.

The report shows that it's outer London that's really attracting buyers' attention at the moment, with all the top ten property hotspots to be found in zone 5 or beyond.

By contrast, the ten tube stations found to be in least demand were all in zone one. Zone 3 is rising in popularity fastest, with demand up 21%, with zone 4 following with 19%.

Overall, demand for property across London is up 13% since January, with East Ham having seen the biggest climb: up 26% over the last six months.
Indeed, East London as a whole is shooting up in popularity, with Woodford and Upminster Bridge rising by 25% and 23% respectively.

"Our research shows that the East London property market is on fire at the moment. From city brokers, trendy hipsters to commuting parents, the East offers up a variety of property for every type of homeowner," says eMoov founder and CEO Russell Quirk.

"With great transport links via the Jubilee and Central Lines as well as the development of the Cross Rail project, strength of demand in this areas should remain due to the improving transport infrastructure, as well as the affordability of property when compared to the rest of the capital."

Interestingly, the index showed no difference in demand between those stations set to get a 24-hour service in September's extension to a night time service and those that won't.

And while competition is increasing across London as a whole, some areas are becoming less popular. Demand has fallen by 13% in Chorley Wood, 10% in Mill Hill East and 8% in Northwood, for example.

However, says Quirk: "London continues to be the property investment Mecca, with demand remaining high as people try to get a foot on the ladder, make a return on their investment, or even just secure a small piece of the capital to call their own."

Top 10 Hottest Tube Stops
1st Watford 7 Metropolitan 78%
2nd Eastcote 5 Metropolitan, Piccadilly 77%
3rd Ickenham 6 Metropolitan, Piccadilly 75%
4th West Ruislip 6 Central 75%
5th Ruislip 6 Metropolitan , Piccadilly 75%
6th Ruislip Manor 6 Metropolitan, Piccadilly 75%
7th Pinner 5 Metropolitan 75%
8th Croxley 7 Metropolitan 74%
9th Rayners Lane 5 Metropolitan , Piccadilly 74%
10th Hornchurch 6 District 73%

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Watford properties top London buyers' wish lists

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.

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