HOME FRONT with Jenny Knight
According to conventional wisdom you can be certain an area is on the up when a new Waitrose store opens or independent coffee shops move in, says Jenny Knight.
But there are other even more significant signs. Here in Balham, I realised we were coming a tad closer to bourgeois bliss when the police stopped turning up to monitor going home time at the local secondary school. Now, while the children don’t raise their straw boaters to strangers, at least they have stopped knocking passers-by off the pavements.
Estate agents insist that the mantra location, location, location is all important when buying a property. They say it is better to buy a run-down property in a smart area than a poshed-up house in a shabby street. But how is a potential buyer to know when an area is up and coming? If they leave it too late prices have rocketed and if they make a wrong call they may find their home hard to sell when the time comes to move on.
Obviously transport links are important and if an area is sandwiched between two up-market locations where houses are more expensive and smarter, the chances are that gentrification will flow out to your district. Alexandra Attwood, branch manager of Winkworth, Streatham, has another tip on how to spot an up-and-coming destination.
She says: “A good example is when big developers with a record of selling lovely homes and achieving record prices, choose an area for a high-end project. This indicates that they have done their research and see the potential.”
Alexandra adds: “Streatham is still good value, but as the area becomes more popular not such great value as it once was. There are lots of owner-occupied Victorian and Edwardian terraces and the large and lovely common. When people check out an area they should look at whether the shops are grotty or whether smart restaurants and coffee shops show it is coming up. Also look to see if there are boarded up properties suggesting repossessions or whether there are skips and scaffolding suggesting people are investing in their homes.”