Train improvements drive up London house prices

Home prices are surging in London’s outer districts as improvements to rail networks and lower prices lure Londoners further out of the expensive city centre.

Home values in West Ealing, where the commute time to London-Liverpool Street will fall by half when a Crossrail train station opens in 2019, rose 29% in the year to February, according to an analysis of preliminary Land Registry data. That compares with a 12% rise for London as a whole.

“West Ealing was a no-brainer for us,” said Rosie Nesbitt, group director of sales and marketing at Fabrica, a London-based developer that is building 770 homes within a six-minute walk of the neighbourhood’s new Crossrail station.

“We’re selling incredibly quickly and it’s all about the transport,” she said.

Property prices in London’s best districts have risen almost 30% in the past five years, according to broker Savills, forcing buyers away from the costlier central neighbourhoods such as Islington and Fulham. 

That has boosted demand in cheaper districts further out that will be served by the £14.8bn (€19.3bn) Crossrail project.

In Palmers Green, where the commute to Moorgate station in the City of London financial district can take just 20 minutes, values rose more than 33% in the period.

Average house prices in the area now stand at £1.47m, according to broker Foxtonsc, compared with £2.35m in Highgate, an area about 3km closer to the City with the same travel time.

Crossrail, approved in 2008 to cut journey times across London, is Europe’s largest construction project. 

Though it’s not due to start operating until late 2018, homebuyers are flocking to areas that will be served by its stations and the trend is set to continue.

In 2013, Fabrica sold private homes in its Jigsaw development, which features tree-lined boulevards, period architecture and parks, for an average £480 a square foot, according to Ms Nesbitt. 

Since October the developer has pre-sold 70% of the project’s second phase for an average of £700 a square foot.

“Buyers are typically savvy young professionals squeezed out of other more central areas and looking for a quick commute to the City,” Ms Nesbitt said.

The future 21 minute-journey to Liverpool Street compares with a 27-minute trip from Ladbroke Grove in west London, which is about five miles closer. n Bloomberg


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