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Time to buy ?

Posted by martinshr on April 19, 2018
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Communal garden south hampstead

Many of our tenants are renting for a period, assessing the area and their options, with a view to buying this year. Some of our tenants have been renting for years, accumulating funds and waiting for the ideal opportunity to jump on the housing ladder.

This article looks at what you can expect and what to look out for if you wanted to buy in our area. At the end you will find my streets league table.

The general consensus is that house prices are on the slide. A famous investor once said “Be brave when others are fearful”. 

Over the last 12 months prices have started to dip. The uncertainty brought about by Brexit and increased taxation on landlords have created this downward pressure. Be careful ‘timing the dip’ however. Last time South Hampstead experienced a slump in 2007/2008, the price decline lasted 6 months at most, before recovering fully and going on to exceed previous highs. Historically, our area in particular, is very robust to house price depreciation. You have been warned.

For those actively shopping, what are you looking for? When you see a great property that ticks 9 out of 10 boxes (10 is impossible apparently) how do you know it’s ‘the one’ and there’s not a 10 out of 10 around the corner?

To answer that you need to understand the local housing stock, what’s exceptional relative to comparables, given the budget range. 


Starting from the top, there are a handful of fully retained houses of 4000 Sq ft + but these rarely come to market (although we happen to have one for sale, off market, enquiries welcome).

The quintessential South Hampstead property would be a 1000 sq ft – 2000 Sq ft Garden flat. The area’s best kept secrets are the expansive rear gardens that back on to each other and the fantastic communal gardens. There are 3 large communal gardens that you’ll never see from the street. If you haven’t got GoogleMaps, give me a call and I’ll tell you where they are. I can’t think of a better way to bring up a family, (if that’s your line of work). Kick the kids out the back door and tell them to be back for tea. It’s a wonderfully sociable way to live, without being imposed upon.

Apart from the larger communal gardens there are still dozens and dozens of properties where all flats in the block share the garden, some are even split with natural hedgerows to define each flat’s space. These flats have the great advantage of allowing an owner to enjoy the brightness of a 1st, or even top floor flat, but with the ability to wander down to the garden to relax in peace. Such is the layout of our streets that gardens rarely suffer street noise and are invariably a beautiful green haven of peace. (£800-£1000 per Sq ft)

Many flats on the higher floors have roof terraces, overlooking the same gardens, so this is a nice compromise if you want the view without the liability or cost of a garden. 

That leaves the premium ground floor flats that have large patio doors spilling out from the reception and/or kitchen onto a terrace and then onto their own expansive, private garden. These flats really are the creme de la creme in our area and what many aspire to. I have sat in many, with Spring or Summer flowers in bloom, full of bird song, feeling rather satisfied that I am only 20 min from the West End. (£1000-£1200 per Sq ft)

Now for a bit of fun – my desirability league table of South Hampstead’s streets. I moved to Priory Road as an 8 year old in 1980. The league table then was based on the number of back gardens we could jump over, so it has changed somewhat.

  1. Aberdare Gardens 
  2. Canfield Gardens
  3. Compayne Gardens
  4. Priory Road
  5. Goldhurst Terrace
  6. Greencroft Gardens
  7. Fairhazel Gardens
  8. Broadhurst Gardens

Considerations were overall quality of housing stock, kerb appeal, street scene, parking and access. The bottom halves of Canfield, Compayne and Goldhurst are all nicer than the top halves and all 3 could argue over joint second place. Priory Road has some beautiful houses on it but it’s a bit further from the tube (that said, it’s closer to West Hampstead so could also make a claim for 2nd place). Cleve Road, Woodchurch Road & Acol Road are just extensions of their bigger brothers and sisters and can therefore be tagged on as listed above.

If you have any questions on the area or you want to put forward your own league table, do get in touch.

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