The regular reader of this blog will know that we de-bunk much of the accepted wisdom about the housing market insofar as it applies to London and the south-east.
The monthly house price surveys, particularly that published by t’Halifax, do not accurately reflect the state of the housing market nationally. T’Halifax’s survey is based on its own mortgage book which, even today, remains dominated by houses oop north.
It’s different down here.
None of this is to argue that Croydon, London and the south-east are immune from the wider impact of the present Government’s economic policies, and if there is a splurge of job losses locally, then that will be certain to affect many aspects of the local economy (more of which over the weekend).
But the fact remains that over the last 50 years, with the exception of the last, Tory-inspired recession of the 1980s, there has tended to be more work available in London, with more, better-paid jobs, and therefore often greater demand in the region for homes than there are houses to fulfil supply that demand.
The national picture is rarely an accurate reflection of localised house prices. Indeed, the way in which house prices in Croydon have held up, if not increased, over the past year is evidence of how that can work.
Now when you stir-in a bit of fashionability into a local housing market, the demand curve takes an even steeper turn upwards.
And there is a domino theory to fashionable areas, especially in the villages of London. When soaring prices in Clapham became prohibitive for many in the 1980s, gentrification saw the builders’ skips move in at South Chelsea (that’s Battersea to you and me) and B’laam (“Gateway to the south,” as Peter Sellers would have it).
A bit of imaginative estate agency can work wonders, too. “Poet’s Corner” turned the end of Brixton’s Railton Road into a more pastoral Herne Hill.
Some 1990s yuppies were so keen to move in close to their darling Maggie when she was retired into her new home, Dun Rulin’, in Dulwich Village, they even started buying and renovating old Victorian houses in Peckham “East Dulwich”. Rodney Trotter was not amused.
Something of the same might just be about to happen closer to home.
According to estate agent-watching website Globrix, the next fashionable address in London is St Reatham. SW16, if you want the right postcode (so don’t get excited over SW2 – that’s still Brixton Hill).
Now, over time, anyone with a home in Beulah Hill or Norwood, maybe even Thornton Heath, may find that a little estate agent-speak that fudges the boundaries could be worth an extra 10 grand on their asking price.
How do you tell if an area’s on the up? Well, the builders’ skip count is one measure. Trendy coffee bars is another.
Globrix reckons that the arrival of a Foxton’s is a dead cert.
They write: “Foxtons, the London estate agent known for its retro minis and hard selling tactics, opened a new office in Streatham, South London. Not a reason to celebrate on its own, but does their knack for spotting up and coming areas make this once tatty area of London the next Clapham or Balham?
“Following a stagnant 2009 when no branches opened, the Streatham branch is its third to open this year, suggesting an upturn in the south London market…
“Streatham’s reputation as one of south London’s most run down areas, with low property prices…” Ugh? “… and empty shops is changing, with shoots of regeneration showing through the pot holes. Streatham Hill station has recently been refurbished and although Starbucks has only made it as far as Brixton, there are a quality shops, bars and cafes sprouting up. Add to this the arrival of Foxtons and another agent, Jacksons, and Streatham is starting to look a little brighter.”
Let’s just hope the ConDems don’t fuck up the economy as effectively as the Tories did in the 1980s…