Bargain Hunter: Where Are London’s Cheapest Homes?

Image by greything in the Londonist Flickr pool.

The job market’s collapsed, the middle’s getting squeezed, and the economy’s as flat as a pancake that’s been through a mangle – yet London’s house prices remain buoyant. Five years into something that looks a lot like a depression, a medium-sized shoebox in the right part of zone 2 can still go for as much as a quarter of a million quid.

There’s been plenty of excitable commentary about this (mostly from columnists, we’d wager, who already own their own homes). But what can you get if you’re after a bargain? If location’s no object, and you desire nothing more exciting than four walls and a ceiling to call your own, then just how cheaply can you buy a London home?

Helpfully enough, property website Zoopla is on hand to tell us. It features a whizzy little app which allows you to draw a line on the map around the area in which you hope to live. To help us identify London’s cheapest homes, we drew a line around the M25*, and asked the site to flag up every property currently on the market for less than £100,000.

Our first attempt at this experiment brought up rather a lot of garages, commercial properties and empty plots of land, and included an Indian takeaway optimistically describing itself as a “one bedroom terraced house”. So, in an attempt to tighten the net somewhat, we tried again, this time specifying that nothing with fewer beds than a studio flat would do. Even then we had to go through and manually discount a depressingly large number of part ownership schemes.

Once we’d been through this rather tortuous process, though, we were still left with a few options.

1) Pond life
For £30k, you can buy this charming “one bedroom detached house” in Chertsey. It looks lovely but it is, very obviously, a boat. If you’ve got a bit more cash and don’t fancy living out in Surrey, for a mere £67,000 there’s this one moored at King’s Cross instead. Even once you’ve bought your house boat, though, you’re generally required to pay mooring fees. And personally, we’d be nervous about taking out a mortgage on anything that can sink. So option two is…

2) Park life
…”the park home”: to you, me and the British law, that’s a mobile home, but without visible wheels and permanently occupying a plot of land on a private estate. These, too, can be quite a bargain: here’s one for £30k in Watford; here’s another for £45k in Elstree. But sadly, this FAQ on the subject tells us, “the majority of park home parks are specially for older or retired residents” – few of whom, we’re guessing, count themselves among the cash strapped first-time buyer demographic.

3) Real life
So you don’t want a boat. You don’t want a caravan with delusions of grandeur. What you want is some real bricks and mortar. What are your options?

Our Zoopla search did bring up a handful of properties listed at under £80k. The trick to finding one seems to be to look to the eastern fringes of London, and not to be too fussy about location. The owners of this studio flat in Erith, for example, are looking for offers over £60k. The building backs onto an industrial estate, and it’s a bit on the small side, but otherwise doesn’t look bad.

Just over the river in Purfleet there’s a first floor studio apartment on for £68k. For a little bit more than that you can even find some flats with a London postcode: £70k for a one-bed in Abbey Wood; the same price for this studio in an former council block in Woolwich.

The descriptions of many of these flats have something in common – to wit, the fact that a tenant is already living in them. That flat in Purfleet is apparently “achieving £495 per calendar month”. Other blurbs talk extensively about what a wonderful investment opportunity this property is. At this end of the market, estate agents’ focus on the buy-to-let investor is very, very obvious.

Just out of morbid fascination, we thought we’d see what was happening at the top end of the market, too. As far as we can tell, the most expensive property currently up for grabs in London is this five-bed apartment taking up an entire floor of the plush One Hyde Park development in Knightsbridge.

It’s yours for a mere £68m. For those keeping score, that’s approximately 1,133 studios in Erith.

*Yes we know this includes areas not technically in Greater London, but it’s as good a boundary for the city as any. And anyway, you try spending an hour trying to draw the GLA’s border on a map and then pressing the wrong button and losing the whole thing, and see how inclined you are to start all over again.

Tags: , ,

Jonn

Article by Jonn Elledge | 94 Articles | View Profile

  • Al

    Erith IS in the Greater London area, London Borough of Bexley to be precise.

    • MattFromLondonist

      No one said it wasn’t in London.

      • Al

        Sorry guys, hold my hands up! I read the ‘disclaimer’ in Italics in a rush and didn’t realise it wasn’t related to the last few paragraphs. I have been uptight for years re the perception of the outer boroughs not being London ‘as such’ and I let my angst get the better of me! Apologies again.

        • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

          I’m from Romford – you don’t have to tell me about “It bloody IS in London” insecurities

        • Guest

          piss off baffo

  • BethPH

    Prices are cheap in Purfleet (despite it being on the main c2c line into Fenchurch Street) because a disproportionate amount of flats were built before the 2008 crash and specifically targeted towards BTL landlords. When the market went pear-shaped, there were a lot of repossessions which drove down prices in the area.

    It also has nearly nothing to recommend it apart from decent transport links and now the Royal Opera House Production Park. None of the promised amenities were built and most of the riverfront is derelict factories and post-apocalyptic wasteland.

    • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

      There’s the Circus Tavern. And, from the Erith side of the river, Purfleet’s river front looks little short of a rural paradise. But no, not a massive surprise that it’s cheap.

      • BethPH

        Oh yes, the Circus Tavern. I used to often see its customers vomiting in the forecourt of the petrol station next door. Also on the ‘avoid’ list are the Fleet and the Royal Hotel.

        • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

          Handy for Lakeside, though

  • carlseltz

    Barking is cheap as chips. But that because its Londons perineum.
    Difficult to get at and stinks of shit.

    • Leah

      Really? There is currently a house in barking being sold for 750,000 think you may have your numbers wrong.

      • Zak

        Depends where in Barking.

  • John

    You can pick up a brand new one bedroom flat in Sheffield City Centre for 70k. Sometimes I wonder why on earth I live here. Minimum wage anywhere else is the country is equivalent to 35k in London.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.guppy James Guppy

    Christ…I might as well superglue myself in a sleeping bag to the underside of the M1 overpass…with a decent pair of earplugs, I’ll have lucked out.

  • S P

    The Woolwich flat is in a block marked for demolition and redevelopment I think – part of the three estates program. The ‘Abbey Wood’ flat is actually in Thamesmead not Abbey Wood and again could be demolished in the coming years as part of Southmere village plans.

    Despite that those prices and lower rents are attainable widely in some areas. It does show there are places in London – even zone 4 – that are easily under 100k, and the hysteria from some about tenants in private accommodation lettings in expesnive central London having to be moved 300 miles is nonsense, and instead of being in very expensive property (taxpayer funded and making landlords a mint) could be easily accommodated under the private rental cap limit in zone 2, let alone in outer London where the vast majority of places are under the cap.

  • http://www.laughinkarma.blogspot.com/ laughinkarma

    New Cross – Deptford area is very affordable for inner city living :)