Phil Martin, Property Finder for Garrington, shares his views as to how the latest rail links are enticing City based workers to look out of London for their next home and gives an insight in to micro markets and why it’s important to understand their differences.
There are a wide variety of micro markets within the Central region, ranging from prime commuter belt zones through City hotspots to rural idylls.
As Property Finders we are seeing a definite trend for London based sellers to seek properties within a short commute of a main London terminus, and in the Central region that means Paddington and Marylebone railway stations.
The recent enhancements to the Chiltern line mean that times have been reduced significantly so that commuters from towns such as Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe, Amersham, Chorleywood, Beaconsfield, and Gerrards Cross all have an improved service into Marylebone in 2012. Further improvements are planned with an additional fast Oxford to Marylebone link through Bicester in the pipeline.
The Cotswold line through Oxford to Paddington, while not so quick, is very popular and towns and villages located on the line between Moreton-in-Marsh and Oxford such as Kingham, Ascott-under-Wychwood and Charlbury continue to attract strong buyer interest.
We have noticed while finding homes for people in this area that the future development of the fast Crossrail link between Paddington and e.g. Canary Wharf with a target journey time of 17 minutes, is already influencing buyer behaviour.
South Buckinghamshire and West Oxfordshire have therefore become increasingly desirable and competition for the better houses has increased, particularly those within a short walk of a station. Prices for the best houses remain strong.
Further west in Gloucestershire, train improvements are planned to the Golden Valley Line between Kemble and Swindon and this will reduce commuting times from e.g. Cheltenham to Paddington by up to 20 minutes. It will also make local towns and villages which are already very desirable “rural centre” hotspots such as Stroud, Tetbury and Cirencester increasingly attractive.
The City of Oxford continues to develop as a totally distinct micro market, and strong demand based on Oxford University itself, the local presence of a large number of outstanding schools within and around the City, and a growing science and technology sector has meant that prices are high and the very best properties continue to demand a significant premium.
Hotspots within the City are the very carefully named Central North Oxford, Headington and suburban “villages” such as Boars Hill. As experienced property finders we are advising buyers that they need to take great care with such labels. Just as in London there are major differences between roads and avenues within each sub-area.
There are many rural micro markets and the key for buyers is to understand location, local amenities and the latest trends in pricing and market performance. As property finders our role is to understand these detailed characteristics and relate them to our clients’ requirements.
Taking as an example the very broad term of “The Cotswolds”, this region consists of several distinctly different areas with labels such as the North Cotswolds, the South Cotswolds and the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. The area as a whole is defined by being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (an AONB) and extends from Chipping Campden in the north east towards Bath in the south west. The bulk of the area lies within the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but also extends into Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire.
Each segment within the AONB is quite distinct and often characterised by its landscape and perhaps the town at the centre of the area. Micro markets therefore surround towns such as Stow on the Wold, Chipping Norton, Tetbury, Winchcombe and Painswick. Buyers should focus specifically on the facilities offered by each “hub” town and the value for money obtainable in the property market which can differ dramatically from area to area.
If you would like more information on buying within these short commutes to London, Phil Martin would be delighted to help you. You might also like to read some of our property finder case studies.