London first-time buyers focus on neighbourhood

First-time buyers in London are focused on finding the right neighbourhood for them, research by Bellway London and Censuswide has revealed.

In a survey of 500 people looking to buy their first home in London in the next five years, 79 per cent of respondents agreed it was extremely important that they liked their local neighbourhood, while 69 per cent said they would always get to know a neighbourhood before buying there.

More than half of those surveyed wanted to live within walking distance of essential shops, while gyms, restaurants and coffee shops led the list of other amenities that first-time buyers wanted to be close to. But only 43 per cent named proximity to transport links as a top priority when choosing a home.

Ian Gorst, Regional Chairman for Bellway London and South East, said: “Our research has provided a snapshot of how first-time buyers feel about the London market and the importance of neighbourhood is a clear message.

“More than 70 per cent of people said that having a strong sense of community in their neighbourhood was extremely important to them, and this is reflected in how our customers feel about where they live. They want to become part of their local neighbourhood and in turn, to support the businesses on their doorsteps, which can only be good news for communities in London where our new homes are being built. There has also been a shift in sentiment since the start of the pandemic. After enduring lockdowns, people want all the amenities they need on their doorstep as everyday life has become more local. Transport links will always be valued in London but neighbourhood now outranks the commute.”

The most popular factor determining choice of a first home was the number of bedrooms (48 per cent). Outdoor space was a top priority for 43 per cent, and 30 per cent of those surveyed wanted to be close to parks and open spaces. Seventy-nine per cent of those surveyed said their priorities had changed since the pandemic, with the desire for outdoor space rising more than any other factor, for these people.

Ian Gorst said: “Parks and public gardens are more valued and new developments can bring investment to these vital outdoor spaces. For example, at Beckton Parkside in Beckton, Bellway London is funding improvements to the neighbouring park and creating a new access point for the public.”

Over 60 per cent of respondents expected to buy their first home in Zones 2 to 6. On average, respondents expected to stay in their first London home for just over five years.

An apartment was the most popular choice for a first home (31 per cent), followed by semi-detached house (30 per cent), detached home (18 per cent), and terraced house (15 per cent). More than 60 per cent wanted a new-build home. Of those respondents who worked from home during lockdowns, more than 90 per cent expected to continue to do so for at least part of the week.

Ian Gorst added: “New homes are a common-sense purchase for first-time buyers. The research found that modern designs, low maintenance and energy efficiency were the main factors influencing people to buy a new home in London.

“New-build apartments can satisfy many other criteria identified in the research, from balconies and terraces to communal rooftop and podium gardens, as well as residents’ work hubs, on-site gyms and tech already set up for home working.”

Bellway London offers Help to Buy for first-time buyers and the research with Censuswide found that this could help 73 per cent to buy their home sooner.

With London Help to Buy, available in London boroughs, first-time buyers can purchase a new home priced up to £600,000 with a five per cent deposit and a 55 per cent mortgage. Up to 40 per cent is provided as a Government-backed equity loan with no interest to pay for the first five years.

First-time buyers enjoy park on their doorstep at new home in Beckton

Sharmin Aktar, 26, and Gergo Vajda, 33, were the first residents to move in at Bellway London’s Beckton Parkside development after receiving the keys to their new two-bedroom apartment last December.

The fact that the development, off Viking Gardens, is next door to Beckton District Park was a major draw for the couple.

Sharmin said: “The first thing that made Beckton Parkside stand out was the park that is now right on our doorstep. There is also a communal garden that we have a great view of from our balcony.

“It was only when we looked around Beckton Parkside that we were sure of what we wanted – it ticked all the boxes. There was also something about owning a new-build home that was really attractive to us. The location is really convenient because work for me is only a 10-minute drive away, and only a 15-minute drive for Gergo. “There is also a Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all close by. It only takes five minutes to drive to multiple food outlets, shops and a gym.”

The couple had been renting a two-bedroom house just two miles from the development for the past three years when they began looking for a place of their own. Sharmin, a facilities co-ordinator for an asset management company in Canning Town, and Gergo, a security officer based in Canary Wharf, were keen to stay as close as possible to London for work – but thought they would have to look further afield in order to find a home within their budget.

Sharmin, 26, said: “Initially we were looking at purchasing a property in Grays, Basildon or Chafford Hundred just because we thought we would only be able to afford a home that was further away from London. My boyfriend had already registered our interest in the Bellway London development and we were notified when the sales office was opening, so we headed down and we ended up reserving our home on the same day. The Help to Buy scheme changed our outlook when looking for a home and made us realise that we could afford a home in London, which is really helpful and convenient for both of us. The customer service we received was amazing. I have already recommended Bellway to my friends and family who are also looking to purchase their first property soon.”

For more information on homes at Beckton Parkside, or how to purchase with London Help to Buy, see www.bellway.co.uk.

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