Research by Virgin One into what makes an area ‘up and coming’ has highlighted the differences between consumer and estate agent views.
While consumers think trendy bars, high street shops and a bookshop chain, mark an up-and-coming area, estate agents paint a different picture. Almost half the estate agents surveyed said a residential or business property development suggests an area is up and coming.
Surprisingly, a good school in the area ranks higher on an estate agent’s agenda than for the consumer, with 23% of consumers believing that this is important, compared with 42% of estate agents. Whereas the proximity to a supermarket is important to the consumer, it is not with the estate agent.
James Duffell, spokesperson for Virgin One, said what stood out most from the research was people’s perceptions of an up-and-coming area.
He said: ‘People’s perceptions are more dependent on feel-good factors such as coffee shops, rather than underlying heavyweight factors such as good schools and transport.’
Darryl Flay, managing director at property development group Cadenza, said first-time buyers are more likely to go for an area close to their place of work, but as areas progress they can be priced out of the market.
He said: ‘Young professional first-time buyers look for affordable areas near to where they work. Trendy bars and restaurants and small residential developments follow them in. The area is then colonised by thirtysomethings working in higher levels of professional management. As a result, increasing property values price the next generation of twentysomethings out of the market in that area and into the next most convenient and affordable location.’
The research showed that re-naming an area which is classed as undesirable can have a large impact. The word ‘village’ tended to have most effect. A total of 45.3% of consumers surveyed said that living in an area with ‘village’ in its name, added value to a property. ‘Conservation area’ ranked 34.3%, followed by ‘riverside’ at 32.5%.
Martin Allen, director at surveyors Steadman Allen, said: ‘There are parts of Southwark and Elephant & Castle where you can get a flat for £75,000 because the area is still considered quite run down. But give it its new name of South City, which reminds you how central it is, and developers can ask £400,000 for a two-bedroom flat in a swanky new scheme.’
The survey found that two-thirds of homeowners said it is the property, not the postcode of an area, that is important.
Interestingly, a third of estate agents said a resident celebrity can influence the buying decision. The top three off-putting factors were litter or graffiti, traffic congestion and too much noise.