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House prices go through the roof! Havering homeowners are sitting on goldmines – those were the headlines just over 10 years ago when rising property values seemed unstoppable.

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The Post and sister paper the Romford Recorder regularly highlighted the soaring values bringing windfalls to buyers.

In March 2000, the Recorder highlighted how one semi-detached property in Brookside, Emerson Park, increased in value from £350,000 to £420,000 in just seven months. Elsewhere, a three/four bedroom house in Park Drive, Upminster, went for £250,000 – an increase of £117,000 from four years earlier.

In 2002, the average house price in Havering had reached £169,200 by the end of 2002.

However, the cost of property wasn’t good news for everyone.

In 2005 Upminster MP Angela Watkinson pledged to speak to Havering Council over a 450 per cent increase in homelessness in the borough.

She said: “Havering suffers from very high property prices and relatively low salaries.

“It is difficult for young people to get a foot on the housing ladder.”

But come 2008, the bubble started to burst and property was no longer a guaranteed investment.

But prices didn’t tumble either – leaving the issue of affordable property as an ongoing one.

In 2009, the average house price had become £268,910, with the GMB Union noting that prices would need to drop by more than 11pc to make them affordable.

Recent research by the Nationwide building society found that being within 500 metres of a tube or rail station attracts around a 9pc premium to a house price.

The company found that the average house price close to the District Line – which serves Upminster, Elm Park and Hornchurch – is £396,820.

It added that rail links may have more of an impact now than ever.

So what of future house prices? A recent study by property consultant GVA predicts that the new Crossrail train line linking Romford, Harold Wood and Gidea Park to central and west London will help bring about a dramatic increase in house values.

Mike Taylor, GVA director, said: “Crossrail will have a distinct impact on the residential property market not just in London but also several areas in Essex and Berkshire.

“Crossrail is more than a new rail link, it will be the catalyst for regeneration and a key driver in maintaining London’s position as a leading global city.”

Alex Armstrong, chairman of Havering Chamber of Commerce, said: “Anything that helps businesses in Havering has to be a good thing.

“People from Havering can travel further, but it also means more people can travel into the area and anyone extra coming into the borough is a good thing.

“House prices are a bit of a double-edged sword as it makes people who have property happy, but people who rent could see rising costs.”

And what of the future? Russell Quirk, director of estate agent eMoov, said: “You can panic about house prices week to week, but the market is more robust than some people give it credit for.

“We’re a long way from seeing 10-15pc annual price increases, but I don’t think that’s really in anyone’s interest and 2-3pc increases are more likely in the near future.

“It’s a rosier picture than some make out.”

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