House prices - a new twist on an old theme

A while back, in one of our regular discussions about house prices, one reader tried and failed to start a discussion about the rental market, as they were a landlord in the area looking for some local insights.

As luck - or vigilant monitoring of the internet - would have it, a locally-based lettings expert and top-selling property writer, David Lawrenson of got in touch shortly afterwards, to volunteer his services. So here's a quick interview with him about his take on the Brockley rental market:

Tell us what you think of Brockley?
Of all the places in London I’d be most surprised if Brockley and the surrounding area is not an even more dynamic and happening place 5 years from now that is it today, which is one of the reasons I enjoy living here.

Much of the housing has improved over recent years and some of the smaller “high streets” in the borough have gentrified better than others with good interesting shops near Honor Oak Park station and Brockley. I love Hillyfields - what great views – and it is where I am involved as manager of a local boys’ football team.

What about the changes happening elsewhere in the borough?
I worry about the Mayor’s plans for central Lewisham. I cannot see why so many new flats are being built. People want houses with gardens not flats and I can only see more traffic as a result.

I bet that in another ten years time the Mayor will be making the roundabout even bigger to accommodate all the extra traffic, thus gobbling up even more of the centre of Lewisham. It seems nuts.

Of course, the big change happened almost nine years ago when Lewisham got the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which instantly connected it to the glass “satanic money mills” of Canary Wharf - and more recently the London City Airport. That was a good thing as are many of the other things that have happened.

Any other downsides to the area?
The only down real side of the area is potentially schools because it seems that many of the good secondaries are over-subscribed which will always put a bid of a lid on things here and may make people move out.

What about house prices and rents?
In terms of house prices and rent, the conservation areas in Lee, Brockley and Telegraph Hill (New Cross Gate/ Brockley) are already expensive relative to local areas (and are all near to green spaces), but in many other parts of Lewisham a decent one bed flat can be bought for under £160,000 and two bed terraces for under £220,000 while rents for a one bed flat average about £750 per calendar month and for a two bed terrace about £900 per month.

Still, these figures are still very low relative to other areas in North London that are as close to central London. Try getting a one bed flat for that in Kilburn or Islington and you’ll see what I mean.

The really big story is of course the extension of the East London Line from New Cross down to Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill and Sydenham and then on to Croydon and Crystal Palace and making these areas more accessible to the northern edge of the City and to Highbury and Islington in North London.

As a property writer I like to keep quiet about our area though I mentioned it in my blog on 6th June 2009 whilst looking at how house prices locally seem to have already turned the corner.

There is no doubt that the East London Line will make this area a more expensive place to live, but I hope it won’t destroy its creativity and diversity.

Where is the market going for landlords?

Well, we have a very small rented sector in the UK that will continue to grow. A lot of the sector supports people on local housing allowance so that is not going to disappear unless the government builds a lot more social housing stock – a thing I think they should do but probably won’t.

Of course, there is more legislation now which the bad landlords will continue to ignore (just like they do all the rest of the legislation because it is too poorly and slowly enforced). If you are a good tenant you will get a good landlord and if you are a bad landlord you will get a bad tenant. Good and bad landlords find their equals in the tenants they get and the same goes for good and bad tenants.

Oh and I’ve got 20 copies of the latest print of my book to give away for just £1.50 each. Get in touch with me at my site!