Unlike the sport that has made it internationally famous, Wimbledon, in the London Borough of Merton, is very much a game of two halves. The tennis fans due to flood into the southwest London suburb in their hundreds of thousands over the next two weeks are not likely to be delayed by much en route to the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Wimbledon’s central station is firmly in the centre of what locals call Wimbledon Town – as distinct from Wimbledon Village. The town is stocked with the same high street stores as clone towns up and down the country. Most of the housing here is in the form of classic Victorian semis and terraces – pleasant but lacking distinction.
Half a mile away is Wimbledon Village where the high street is lined with patisseries, florists and boutiques. Properties here range from pretty country-style cottages to enormous £20m mansions.
“Wimbledon Village is where town meets country,” says John Collard, a director of Robert Holmes and Co estate agents. “You have a common to walk on, nice pubs, and it is not crowded or built up. There is a golf course, a riding stable, and at the same time you can probably be at Waterloo station within 25 minutes.”
The entry price to this pretty enclave would be a one-bedroom terraced cottage on Belvedere Square priced from £525,000 to £550,000. John D Wood is selling a Grade II-listed, wisteria-covered example for £525,000.
Buyers should expect to pay between £700,000 and £800,000 for a two-up, two-down period cottage, while a three-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian house would cost about £2m. Larger properties are in the region of £7m to £9m. Savills is marketing a seven-bedroom, Gothic-style house with an outdoor pool for £7m.
At the top end, an eight-bedroom house overlooking Wimbledon Common, perhaps with a swimming pool in the basement or a tennis court in the garden would cost up to £20m.
Ben Cameron, residential sales manager at Andrew Scott Robertson, says his patch in the town may be less picturesque than the village but is a desirable address in its own right. There is a cinema, and plenty of restaurants, shops and bars. Overground trains to London Waterloo take just 17 minutes, and Wimbledon is also served by two Underground lines.
“The village has got the aura,” says Cameron. “But there are some very good areas in Wimbledon Town.”
Chief among them are the wide, leafy streets around South Park Gardens. Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward is selling a three-bedroom Victorian terrace, close to South Park Road, for £725,000. Larger, semi-detached period houses fetch up to £2m. Cameron says parents flock to the catchment areas of high-achieving state schools like Dundonald and Bishop Gilpin C of E primary schools, both rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, the government’s schools’ watchdog. Living close to one of these schools can add £100,000 to the value of a property, says Cameron.
For state secondaries, there is the “outstanding” Ursuline High School (girls), although Wimbledon College (boys) is rated only “satisfactory”.
According to Cameron, most buyers are either local people trading up from flats, or refugees priced out of central southwest London suburbs. “What they usually do is sell a flat in town when they have a family, or are thinking about it, wait a few years, and then if they’ve made any money move further out to a bigger house in Surrey,” he said.
Of course this is a trajectory that only works when the market is rising, and the latest evidence suggests that Wimbledon’s emergence from the downturn is more tortoise than hare. The average property price for Wimbledon is £791,000, almost twice the average for Greater London.
According to Savills estate agents, prices today are 17 per cent higher than at the market peak in 2007 (when they stood at £678,000) – disappointing when compared with 25 per cent growth across Greater London as a whole. It is clear, however, there is not only a divide between town and village in Wimbledon, but between large properties and more modest-sized homes. Detached houses have a £2.3m average price tag compared with £2.7m in 2007. Semi-detached homes are faring slightly better, up to £1.39m from £1.33m five years ago. But any growth seems to be concentrated at the lower end of the market. The average terraced house sells for £858,000, compared with £719,000 in 2007. Flats have risen from £329,000 to £373,000 over the same period.
Cameron says there is a “lot of movement” in the market between £500,000 and £1.2m, in part thanks to demand from people who have been delaying a move on to the property ladder. More expensive homes are not selling so readily. Cameron estimates up to one in five buyers at the £2m-plus end are from overseas, with Europeans forming the largest group.
However, the area has not yet piqued the interest of Russian and eastern European buyers, one of the groups that have done so much to prop up prime property prices in central London since 2007.
“Foreign buyers have been a little bit nervous, the cost of living is going up, and bonuses have not been as evident in the last few years,” adds Collard. “However, this is an established sort of area, and the tennis gives us an international showcase.”
● Crime figures are below the London average. In April the Metropolitan Police dealt with 57 crimes in the Wimbledon Park ward
● The number of homes sold in Wimbledon today is about half the number in 2007, according to Savills
● During Wimbledon fortnight a three-bedroom house can be rented out for £2,000, while players will pay up to £10,000 a week for a sizeable home in the village
What you can buy for . . .
£500,000 A two-bedroom, period terraced house in Wimbledon Town
£1m A four-bedroom, semi-detached period house in the town
£5m A five to seven-bedroom, detached house in the village