Research has found that house prices in the London commuter belt fall by more than £3,000 for every minute away the property is by train from the capital. Estate agents from Savills researched property prices around 314 stations in places around the capital on direct commuter lines into the city. It found that average property prices within half an hour’s train ride from London were £458,000, compared with £606,000 in inner London.
The study of Land Registry data found that the cost of housing fell sharply to £337,000 for journeys of one hour to 69 minutes, with the saving averaging £3,048 per minute.
The average property price in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, which is within 29 minutes of central London by train, was £1,010,000. The average price dropped to £929,000 for Sunningdale in Berkshire, which is nearly an hour away, and then by about a third for Great Shelford, near Cambridge, which is just over an hour away, to £622,000.
The correlation between distance and price is uneven. The average property in Oxford, with its university, culture and second homes for City types, costs £730,000 for a 57-minute commute. It takes just 21 minutes to travel from the new town of Welwyn Garden City, but with few attractions to rival Oxford’s, the average price is £430,000.
Sophie Chick, who led the research, said: “When you get to that point almost an hour from London, there are places like Cambridge, Oxford and Winchester, where prices go up again for those cities that … don’t just rely on the commuter market.”
Chick said Savills’ research was particularly pertinent because, after several years of rocketing London property values, prices in many towns surrounding London are now rising faster than in the capital. This means London families are increasingly cashing in for somewhere bigger and possibly cheaper in surrounding counties. In the first three months of this year, 30% of Savills’ buyers in the commuter belt were moving from London, compared with 23% a year earlier. Chick said the trend was likely to continue.
Sophie said: “We’ve been talking for so long about buyers moving out of London, but now we’ve reached a turning point. When prices were going up at such a rate in London, it was easy for people to say: ‘We’ll sit tight before we move out,’ but for a lot of people it’s now the trigger to move.”
The trend has created new hotspots such as West Horndon in Essex, which is 32 minutes from Fenchurch Street station in the City. Prices there have risen 65% in the past five years, but are still a relatively modest £389,000 on average, the research found.
Average prices in Hassocks, 58 minutes from London Bridge on the Brighton line, have risen 36% in the past five years. For comparison, Brighton, a favourite destination for trendy Londoners moving out, has seen prices rise 28% in the same time.
Chick said families making the move had to weigh up journey times, house prices, quality of life and the high cost of commuting in and out of London, but she said savings on house prices usually outweighed the increased travel costs.
It costs almost £10,000 a year to commute along the 83-minute journey from Newark Northgate, the survey’s most northerly location, to London’s King’s Cross, but the average house price around the Nottinghamshire town is just £147,000.
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