Report highlights potential property hotspots in the UK in 2014

The UK property market has split in two with London and sought after cities in the south east set to perform the best and be in demand in 2014, according to a new analysis.

The capital city and commuter belt are being driven by the London effect and in the rest of the country some other areas of the property market are just beginning to stir, says the report from national estate agents Jackson-Stops & Staff which has more than 40 offices nationwide.

But as confidence returns to the City, the attractions of more space, good schools and better transport links have combined to make many buyers look at moving to the country in 2014 and with spiralling prices in London, the country market looks even more attractive, it explains.

‘Two distinct markets have emerged from the downturn. London’s occupancy profile has altered significantly. Mobility is more important to young professionals who move around with work and may opt or be forced to rent rather than buy. People are working longer hours and want to be relatively close to their offices. They also need to be available to meet clients,’ said Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops & Staff.

‘Working from home for two days a week and in London for the rest of the time has become less attractive. As a result, the London influence on the rest of the UK remains weak and has resulted in a two markets effect but this will change as confidence in the City improves,’ he pointed out.

‘International demand will continue to underpin central London and service sector growth will continue to sustain demand in the South East. Elsewhere, the main drivers will be regional economic growth,’ he added.

The report outlines how the London suburbs and places within an hour of London by train are benefiting from the rise in prices in the capital. Good transport links, excellent schools, and an appealing mix of shops, restaurants, leisure facilities and open spaces tend to be the essential characteristics for an appealing destination to move to or invest. These apply equally to the London suburbs and to attractive towns and villages across the UK and, according to Jackson-Stops & Staff agents across the UK, will be among the main reasons for moving in 2014.

As shortage of stock continues to force prices up in prime central London, people are selling up and heading out of town to the London suburbs and Home Counties in search of a larger house and garden and a change in lifestyle. However, the bright lights of the capital as a leading global city remain undiminished for international buyers.

‘This part of central London is not only close to the West End and the City but also well placed for speedy weekend exits to the country. Its appeal lies in the eclectic mix of traditional and bohemian styles, plus wonderful schools, parks, high end boutiques, bars and restaurants,’ said Sebastian Anduze from Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Holland Park office.

The general confidence in the London market comes, in part, from the city’s geographical position. This is combined with the fact that London is still perceived as the economic capital of the world, according to Harry Buchanan from the Pimlico office. ‘We have seen strong prices continuing and the main factors would be supply and demand and London being perceived as a safe investment. Another contributing factor has been the sharp growth of some of the Asian markets against the pound. This makes a central London investment not only safe but wise,’ he explained.

Charles Puxley from the Chelsea office does not expect to see a significant increase in stock levels happening in the short term and says that in locations such as Holland Park and Notting Hill properties remain popular with both UK and international buyers.

Wimbledon Village is an ideal staging post for people moving out of central London due to its fashionable shops and boutiques, its cosmopolitan vibe, excellent schools, open spaces and strong community spirit making it attractive for families seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the urban centre according to the report. It also says that the Surrey towns of Weybridge, Esher, Cobham and the surrounding area appeal to people moving out of London.

The firm’s new office in St. George’s Hill in Weybridge, has seen a significant rise in activity and sales since it opened in June 2013 and Tim Firth predicts a steady rise in house prices through 2014 as confidence continues to build.

Other popular commuter destinations for the London exodus are the towns of Oxted and Sevenoaks. ‘Sevenoaks draws the market because of the excellent easy commute to London of 30 minutes coupled with the outstanding schools in the area, particularly the pull of grammar school options and highly rated primary schools,’ said Jill Mitchenall, of the Sevenoaks office.

‘These pretty towns offer a wide range of facilities and road and rail links are excellent. There is a very good selection of local schools, which continues to be a factor in attracting families to the area,’ she added.

Stuart Routledge of the Oxted office said that London families wanting to bring their children up in a more rural environment are attracted to Oxted as they require good schools, restaurants and shopping, coupled with a wide range of leisure facilities and clubs. ‘Some have grown up here, lived and worked in London and then return as their families grow. There’s a real sense of community locally and many buyers want to remain in the area. It is not unusual for us to be marketing houses which have been owned by the same family for the last 20 years. Good family homes are usually quickly sold, some without even being advertised,’ he pointed out.

The firm believes that Crossrail will reinforce and improve Newbury’s attractiveness for those relocating out of the City, yet wanting good transport links for commuting. Many buyers already perceive Newbury and the surrounding area as one of the primary and most attractive swathes of open countryside west of London and improved communications can only add to its appeal.

‘Crossrail will be operational from 2018. Those villages within a 10 minute drive of Kintbury, Newbury, Midgham and Pangbourne stations, yet still in unspoilt and open countryside will see the most benefit. The major benefit is without doubt the greatly improved travel time once at Paddington to The City and Canary Wharf,’ said James Dawson at the Newbury office.

Another popular location is the market down of Midhurst which is situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park, yet just one hour from central London and close to many major sporting attractions, including the Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival and Glorious Goodwood and is also home to the world renowned Cowdray Polo Club.

‘The main buyers for houses in Midhurst tend to be those moving out of London who recognise the value of living near great schools, in a National Park, near all the superb local leisure facilities which include the sea, the Downs, Goodwood horseracing, golf, flying and motor racing, Chichester Theatre and polo at Cowdray Park. Yet they can still be within each reach of London  and three major airports nearby,’ explained Andrew Ferrier of the Midhurst office.

The Cotswolds is another area popular with those moving out of London. The report says that its popularity as a place to live is matched by its attraction to visitors from across the world. This does much to support the rural economy and help the proliferation of specialist farm shops to the particular benefit of local residents.

‘We have found the properties in most demand are good family houses, built of local stone and in good decorative order. A finite supply of such buildings continues to underpin the market and most purchasers are seeing this as a good long term investment as well as a picturesque roof over the family’s heads,’ said  David Froggatt of the firm’s Chipping Campden office.

Other areas tipped to be popular in 2014 include Shaftesbury in Dorset, Newmarket in Cambridgeshire, the area around Taunton in Somerset, and Exeter and Exmouth in Devon.