House prices in Greater London jumped by an average of £50k last month, according to Rightmove, in a trend that it has called “unsustainable”.
The typical Londoner's response to this has been "yes, what else is new?" - it's not like it's a surprise to hear these things any more, even if the scale of the rise is quite astonishing. House prices have knock-on implications. Higher house prices mean higher average market rents, and that in turn drags up the pegged-at-80-percent-of-market-rents definition of “affordable housing”.
So the average matters. But what is it? Instead of relying on Rightmove, the Land Registry records every housing transaction every month. It's a little behind Rightmove - its records are updated when a property deal is completed, whereas Rightmove is talking about what houses have been listed as on its site in August - but it's comprehensive, and best of all it gives the address of each home.
It says that the average price of a property in Greater London is £359,650. What’s that going to buy you these days?
Well, for starters, a flat in this building in Surbiton (that’s zone 6):
One of these terraced houses in Brent, with a garden that overlooks a railway depot:
A flat in this block in Battersea, which - until the Northern Line extension arrives later this decade - suffers from being in a public transport hole:
And if you’re a family wanting a home, there’s this quite nice new-build - but it’s in Biggin Hill, next to the air base there, and half an hour’s drive from any station to get you into London proper:
These homes cost £359,950 each, which is more than double the average house price for England and Wales. That's £164,654.
If you're someone who's moved to the capital recently from elsewhere in the country, and you can only afford something close to what you just sold, then it's even more depressing. Searching for properties sold for close to the England and Wales average gets you things like a flat in this building in Enfield:
Or a flat in this building in Bexley:
The things that link these properties - they're small, they're not close to the city centre, their transport links are mediocre, they're too small for families with more than one child - are all bad, and getting worse value for money with every passing month. I'd say it's a rubbish time to be a middle class Londoner, but when so much of your income is going on rent or a mortgage it's worth asking whether the middle class will be able to afford to be middle class at this rate. And as for the poor, Slough, Bradford and Leicester await.
(All screenshots taken from Google Street View.)