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   Inside Out - South East: Monday February 28, 2005


Terrace in London
Just capital - Londoners are moving out of the city

There's a new wave of people moving out of London and buying houses in the South East.

So what are the implications for home owners who already live in the green and pleasant pastures of the South East?

Inside Out investigates the region's new housing hot spots.

Living in London isn't always all that it's cracked up to be.

There's the crowded public transport system, the crime, the pollution, the overcrowding, the heavy traffic and the congestion charge.

But Londoners are cottoning on to the fact that there's a much more pleasant place to live very nearby - the South East of England.

The houses are cheaper, the air is fresher and… there's plenty of space to spread your wings.

So it's no surprise that Londoners are selling their houses and buying a much better property and lifestyle for the same money.

Pushing up prices

There's nothing new in the surge to move South East - Londoners have been doing it for years.

But it seems that now there another wave of Londoners heading this way in search of a better life.

Estate agents' office
Greenshifters are looking South East for property

And this is affecting existing homeowners because it's pushing up house prices in the South East.

The Office of National Statistics monitors how many people move in and out of London.

They found that in 2003 a balance of 113,400 people left the capital, and we can be safely assured that a substantial number moved to the South East.

The newcomers have been dubbed "greenshifters" because they're shifting from the dirty streets of London and moving out to the tranquil green pastures of the South East and the coastal areas of Great Britain.


These new greenshifters aren't just moving in terms of getting a better value property, but they're getting a better quality of life.

Mayfield in East Sussex is home for the King family, and their three children - Henry, Bronte and Francesca.

The Kings bought their current house for £140,000 eight years ago.

They're now selling the house for £495,000, making a considerable profit.

In fairness they have spent a lot of money on the renovation of their property, but nevertheless, it's a tidy sum.

Winners and losers

John Wrigglesworth, a Property Consultant, explains how the market is changing.

Property - The Facts

Average 2005 house prices in the South East are:

  1. Detached: £359,877
  2. Semi-detached: £212,143
  3. Terraced: £175,077
  4. Flat: £145,832

Average 2005 house prices in Greater London are:

  1. Detached: £569,338
  2. Semidetached: £278,070
  3. Terraced: £278,094
  4. Flat: £239,316
Source: BBC News

"The winners are those who've got property. Either they've got property or they're buying it right now.

"The losers though are the people who are not in the position to buy property.

It's the prospective first time buyers who've been saving up who will be hit hardest in his opinion.

"People who live out in Kent and Sussex who have been saving up, who will now start seeing house prices outpacing those elsewhere.

"It will make it more and more difficult to get on to the first rung of the ladder."

First time buyers

For those at the bottom of the housing chain who can't afford to buy a flat, it's a huge dilemma.

One option for them is to lower their sights and buy part of a flat - it's called co-ownership.

Sarah Douglas and Christopher Barber from Ashford are first time buyers.

These days it almost goes without saying that they can't afford to buy a flat of their own. So they've turned to a housing association for help.

So Sarah and Chris' only option is to buy half of a flat and pay a minimal rent to the housing association which owns the other half.


So if you're a first time buyer, part ownership with a housing association may be a good option.

But if you're one of the lucky ones, you'll be further up the property ladder.

Your house will have increased in value over the years as money trickles out of London.

if you want to sell up and pocket some of the cash, you might be looking for a cheaper place to live.

To let signs
Letting and Co-ownership are options for some

So where are the best bargains in the South East?

According to the Halifax Building Society, Margate is currently the place with the cheapest average property price.

The National Association of Estate Agents agreed, and also recommended Maidstone.

For an example a three bedroom terrace house in Hedley Street, within walking distance of Maidstone East station has a guide price of £145,000.

Other experts point to at Hastings as another possible bargain location.

A top floor, one bedroom flat in Stockleigh Road, Hastings is currently on the market for £79,950.


So although the money is being made in London, it's being spent in the South east.

Some experts predict the effect will be to push prices up faster than in the capital.

Experts predict that prices in the countryside are going to increase relatively more than in London.

Estate agents' window
Winners and losers - are you a property climber

So people moving out now and those already living in the countryside are likely to see the benefit of price rises - and these could be two or even three times higher in terms of price changes than they'll experience in London.

So the London greenshifters could be doing the South East a favour, but only if we own a property.

The message is clearly to get on the property ladder as soon as possible and keep climbing, any way you can.

See also ...

Inside Out: South East
Properties in the South East

On the rest of Inside Out
Property success
Million pound properties
Property development

A guide through the mortgage maze
Dealing with estate agents
House price forecasts 2005

On the rest of the web
Office of National Statistics
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister - House Prices
The National Association of Estate Agents

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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