A new breed of more remote commuter towns are enjoying faster property price rises than traditional suburban hotspots, as increasing costs are forcing homeowners to look further afield.
Established commuter zones in Kent and Surrey have seen property prices soar in recent years, making them some of the most expensive homes in the country.
But price growth in these areas is now commonly being outpaced by smaller adjacent towns that are becoming popular with city workers. Young families and first-time buyers are increasingly having to look in outlying areas for affordable homes.
Knight Frank, the estate agent, said property prices in the top 10 most expensive areas of the south-east – including Gerrards Cross, Weybridge, Sevenoaks and Ascot, had grown 13.7 per cent in the last three years. At the same time, average prices in more affordable commuter towns – such as Chatham and Gosport – grew 16.3 per cent.
Miles Shipside, commercial director at Rightmove.co.uk, the property website, said: “Traditional commuter towns in places like Surrey have just become too expensive. People are now having to look to less appealing 1960s towns.”
He highlights areas including the Thames Gateway towns such as Maidstone and Gravesend and towns further north such as Reading, Kettering and Corby.
“Anywhere within a 40-minute to one-hour train journey of London is generally seeing good property growth,” he said.
In a recent poll conducted by Haart, the estate agency, Chatham in Kent was voted the best value commuter location within a 20-minute to one-hour train journey from central London.
Other good value areas for London commuters include Slough, Stevenage, Redhill and Surbiton.
Haart said property prices in Chatham were still relatively low, while the journey time into London was fairly short and rail fares were cheaper than some other destinations.
Estate agents say property investors in the Thames Gateway area are set for strong price growth due to a £97m government-funded regeneration, including plans to build 200,000 homes and improve transport links into London.
Mr Shipside said the rush of property buyers into these more affordable commuter towns had already triggered welcome regeneration.
“Some of the less architecturally attractive places are being gentrified. Maidstone is having much of its town centre rebuilt.”
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