Property, Prices and Postcodes in Richmond

I’m fascinated by house prices.  I think most British homeowners are.

On the surface it’s because so many of us have our life savings tied up in bricks and mortar, so the value of our property is important.  But I think deeper than that, we all hope we bought our houses at the best price possible, and have chosen to live in places where house prices are increasing, not dropping.  It’s a matter of pride.

The good news for all of us is that, according to the BBC, the average house price in Richmond upon Thames rose by 8.5% between Sept 2010 and Sept 2011.   Only the City of Westminster and Ealing rose faster in London, and nationally, the average house price dropped by 1.9%.  So if our wealth is tied to our properties, we’re 10% better off than the rest of the country this year.  And Richmond ranks very high in the ‘improve don’t move’ leader boards with  over 3,000 properties in Richmond undergoing major renovation or extensions – again one of the highest in London and contributing to the price rise.

But of course the Borough is large.  Looking at historical average sales data from FindaProperty, there’s a marked difference in the average house value.  In fact, the average sold price for a detached house in Barnes is £1.5M, whereas in TW4 (which covers Whitton in Richmond upon Thames, and parts of Hounslow) the average detached sold price is just under £270,000.  That’s a huge gap, although TW4 is by far the outlier, the next lowest is Tw2 at £400,000.

Can i interest you in a 4 bedroom terraced house in Barnes for £4.25m?

Looking across all property types, there’s a clear division between the most expensive 4 postcodes (TW10 Ham/Petersham, TW11 Teddington, SW14 Mortlake and SW13 Barnes) and the rest.  The only surprise there is that Richmond itself, bracketed with North Sheen and Kew, tucks in just behind – in 5th place.

In terms of the future, Teddington is clearly fast on the rise, and there are also pockets of fast growth in areas such as Strawberry Hill and St Margarets – but Barnes, Petersham and Ham have been top dogs for a long time and it will be hard to oust them short of the Government closing down the BBC so all the TV presenters and producers who live there suddenly have to move out to work at S4C in Wales.

The new home of CFC?

The big rumour  is that Chelsea Football Club are going to move into Twickenham Stadium at the end of this decade.   [NB – since writing this post it turns out that this was just a rumour].

Its hard to know what this would do to the prices in Twickenham – some say that the arrival of one of the world’s richest sports clubs would drive house costs through the roof as the cachet of Chelsea is transported with the team.  Others predict a disaster with 80,000 football fans marauding the streets every week.

My bet – if it happened (and right now Battersea Power Station site looks far more likely since the Earls Court planning bid has failed)  is that it would have a very positive price effect.  The dwindling shops in the High Street would get far more business than they do from the irregular rugby games and there would just be much greater demand to live there.

Wherever you live, there are a number of factors driving the house prices.  School quality and availability (and we all know there just aren’t enough schools, but that’s for another blog) is key, especially since the Borough has a lot of families.

Transport links are usually massive influences to prices, and Barnes has two train stations as well as a good bus route to Hammersmith, but only Richmond and Kew have tube stations – and they also have train stations.

And of course a third big factor would be the amenities – the quality of the local shops… people want cute boutiques and stylish delis, as well as great big Waitrose or M&S supermarkets within reach of their 4x4s.  Apparently they also want lots of estate agents.

Smile now, because when you grow up you’ll need to rob an investment bank to buy a house here…

But how on earth does a first time buyer get a foot on the ladder in this Borough?  The general perception is that there’s not enough affordable housing in the Borough, despite a number of new developments appearing in all postcodes.  It just doesn’t seem a priority here.

Richmond Council runs a number of schemes available for people who cannot afford to buy a property on the open market – generally for households with incomes of less than £60,000.  I would think that despite the affluence of the area, quite a few households have incomes less than that, so i’d be interested to know whether this actually works.  You can find out about the Council’s schemes here.

Anyway, I could write about property in Richmond forever – the crazy costs of Richmond Hill, the self-importance of living on Richmond Green and of course the post-code jealousy between SW13 and SW14 (not to mention the 876 telephone numbers!).

But what do you think about house prices in the area?  Are they out of control?  Do the council’s housing schemes actually work?  Will the Olympics increase house prices in the East and dent them over here – or is the impending arrival of hundreds of thousands of extra tourists an opportunity to rent out your house or spare room for the Olympics and make some extra cash?