Will the world soon be moving to Havering?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 April 2014 | UPDATED: 09:44 14 April 2014
With house prices soaring and fears of a worse housing bubble forming than the one before the last recession, the Recorder asks why should anyone move to Havering?
What can £300,000 get you in these London boroughs:
Havering: A six-bedroom end of terrace house in Harold Hill
Westminster: A car parking space in Knightsbridge or a one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill
Redbridge: A four-bedroom house in Ilford
Camden: A house boat with one bedroom near Regent’s Park
Hackney: A three-bedroom flat in a tower block or a one-bedroom apartment in a Victorian house
London-wide, last year’s average price of a home was a whopping £580,000, which in most places will get you a pokey flat, but in Havering that sum could buy a five-bedroom detached house with period character in upmarket Hornchurch.
The overall average price in Havering is less than £300,000, making the borough a far more realistic option for first-time buyers than most other parts of the capital.
Elsewhere in London, £300,000 will get you a canal boat in Camden or a parking space in Knightsbridge.
Of course, Havering’s prices are lower for a reason – for some, the borough may seem a little far from the heart of London.
But with the Shenfield railway line providing rapid transport into the heart of London and the District line offering another direct route to the City, there are jobs aplenty just a short commute away.
Future transport improvements are set to make travel even easier and should have a positive impact on house prices too, making the area a hotly-tipped investment for the future.
The Recorder spoke to estate agents Balgores in Station Chambers, Romford, to find out whether homes in Havering represent value for money.
Sales adviser Brad Stanton said that, with house prices steadily increasing, it is a good time to move to the area and he expects its appeal to grow even more when the new Crossrail line links Romford, Gidea Park and Harold Wood with the West End in 2018.
Mr Stanton said: “Much more so than most London boroughs, you get a lot for your money.
“With Crossrail, we think that once that is fully up and running, it will improve the house prices greatly.
“All the areas have their merits. If it’s price and affordability, then there’s Harold Hill, but if you are looking for somewhere nice, there’s Gidea Park.
“And there’s a great range of properties. A three-bedroom house in Harold Hill is £190,000 or in Emerson Park it’s £700,000 for a four-bedroom house.”
While Havering boasts bustling town centres, it also has quieter village-like areas such as Hornchurch and Upminster.
Upminster ward councillor Ron Ower said: “There’s an open park in the middle of town. I don’t think there’s anywhere else you get that.
“It’s great. We have got the best schools in the borough and we are close to excellent rail connections, the Underground and the c2c and also we are on the edge of open countryside.”
The borough, however, is more than affordable homes and travel links – it’s also marked the character of its people.
Joe Leslie, 57, who runs the website Cockney Pride, had to move from Collier Row to Brentwood due to “circumstances” but misses the area and can’t wait to return.
Joe, who lives in Wendover Gardens, Brentwood, said: “The people in Romford are so down to earth, it’s unbelievable.
“The people of Romford are so good compared to Brentwood.
“They are very much more proud to come from the East End, proud to be labelled a Cockney. The community is absolutely brilliant and there’s no comparison.”
Leader of the council Cllr Steven Kelly had to agree.
He said: “It’s difficult to say what the best thing about living in Havering is, as there are so many reasons why it’s great.
“We have a generally happy and satisfied population and that’s due to, among other factors, low unemployment, low crime, good education and social services.”
Good transport connections, affordable homes and a great community – maybe Havering is about to become very popular with homebuyers.