Are Londoners so desperate to buy their own homes they will spend £465,000 for a flat with no windows?
It is a question that looks like it will soon get an answer after an estate agent began marketing such apartments in Brixton, south London, promising “a sanctuary of calm” in a vibrant and trendy part of town. “There can be no equivalent in SW2,” the marketing material claims, referring to the area’s postal code.
Two newly converted two-bedroom apartments will be lit purely through “light wells” channelling daylight from windows on the floor above, according to Beresford Residential, the estate agent marketing the scheme.
The flats are among eight in a converted office building, of which four have “traditional” windows, two are lit by skylights and two purely by light wells, Beresford said. All the others are under offer but those with light wells have not yet been bought.
“They still represent good value for money given that the average asking price for a two-bed flat in SW2 is circa £525,000,” said Craig Wildy, director at Beresford Residential.
The price of the average house now amounts to 12.6 times median earnings in inner London, meaning that many Londoners have been forced to keep renting or move to the outer suburbs.
The price of the average home in London increased by 13.9 per cent in the year to January, according to Land Registry figures released on Friday.
As London house prices have shot up they have led to quickfire gentrification in formerly down-at-heel areas such as Brixton, while in the centre of the capital a garage with one parking space sold last week at auction for £360,000.
The Brixton development became a target of online scorn after it was first reported in Estates Gazette.
“The response to the marketing has been very positive and the quirkiness of the design has been one of the aspects that buyers have found particularly appealing,” said Mr Wildy.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, the housing charity, said: “When flats that don’t even have windows are being sold for over £450,000, the one thing that is clear is that we need to invest in decent homes that the average Londoner can actually afford.”
He added: “The next mayor has the power to invest in homes ordinary Londoners can afford to rent or buy — and we desperately need to see the mayoral candidates commit to doing this, before the capital sees another four years of a worsening housing crisis.”
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