Not everyone wants to live in the beating commercial heart of the capital. While East London prime markets have their indisputable charm, the south west of the capital is an emerging area that, thanks to the Crossrail link, is just as high up on the prime location ladder as those inner city developments. You also have all the additional benefits of the suburbs – larger properties, better prices and two key aspects that many inner city residents can merely dream of; off-road parking and a garden.
 
So it is no wonder, then, that the south west of the capital appears to be one of the biggest emerging Prime London property areas, and one that is garnering a great deal of interest from both UK and overseas investors.
 
Quality of life
 
In London, the quality of life factor is a big player in any property purchase or long-term rental plans. Visceral factors such as the ‘community spirit’ of a location is just as important as proximity to an underground station (although thanks to Crossrail the south west of the city now has that practical advantage too). Things such as local schools, availability of leisure facilities and access to open spaces such as parks also feature highly on wish lists. So it is inevitable that demand for property in south west areas are turning these previously moderately desirable locations into Prime property hotspots that could eventually rival the established prime locations such as Marylebone, Chelsea and Kensington.
 
The numbers
 
This does, however, drive the price up for freehold and leaseholds, and makes it increasingly difficult for first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder. As such, lettings and long-term rentals are on the rise. Letting agents have seen a 69% increase in email inquiries over the last year, indicating that demand for rental properties in areas across the capital are shooting up.
 
Rents are correspondingly high, even in outer London areas such as the south west. The average rent for a two-bed property (primarily apartments) is currently £2,216 per month, a rise of more than 6% in the past year from £2,086. This represents a continuation of a trend that started in 2012-13 for annual rises in rental costs of around 3-4% a year, well above the rate of inflation. So while this may not be the best news for tenants, it does indicate that buy-to-let portfolios are a profitable investment for developers.
 
Outer London prices have performed even better (as far as investors are concerned), with an average 8.4% annual increase in the rental value of a two-bedroom property this year, compared with a relatively modest 2.3% increase in 2014. This too indicates that the outer London postcodes are developing into prime markets in their own right, and rival the inner city areas normally associated with high-value rental property.
 
Small is beautiful
 

A continuing trend in both the lettings and the leasehold/freehold markets is for smaller properties. “Locations outside the usual hotspots such as Chelsea and Kensington are definitely up and coming areas that tenants looking for Prime quality rentals. Tenants should be looking for properties that represent premium quality at a lower rental value,” commented Joel Brookes from prime property experts Vanet. “Not only do they tick all the boxes regarding quality of life, facilities and accessibility, but rents are often more affordable than for more central postcode prime properties. Put simply, these new up and coming prime areas in the south west deliver much more for your money.” The main demand is for studio and one-bedroom apartments of around the £3-400 a week rental value – perfect for young professionals.

 
Conversely, these outer postcode prime areas also offer a plentiful supply of housing stock that is ideal for young families, with semi-detached and terrace properties falling into a more affordable price bracket. For investors, these can often be turned into multiple occupancy rental properties too, maximising the return and expanding a portfolio into new areas.
 
Getting the right price
 
Private landlords are sometimes portrayed in a negative light for over-charging tenants. However, the opposite is actually true, and landlords often end up ‘short changing’ themselves by setting their rents too low. The value of rental properties can fluctuate in a very short period of time. It is therefore important for landlords to get accurate rental valuations from a professional management company before putting a let on the market. To get an accurate price, it is also key to talk to agents who are familiar with the area, know the current market values for properties and have a good understanding of how the market will perform in the next year or so.
 
Likewise, tenants looking for rental property, or buyers and investors looking for freehold or leasehold properties to buy, need to talk to agents who have a good local knowledge of the area they are interested in. They will also need to understand how overall market forces can affect the price of prime properties in up and coming areas like the south west. Only then can you get a prime property to buy or rent in an up and coming area for the right price.
 
 
All figures and quotes are accurate at the time of publishing  

Sales: Vanet Property Asset Management is a trading name of Countrywide Estate Agents,
Registered in England Number 00789476. Registered Office: Greenwood House, 1st Floor, 91-99 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0PP

Lettings: Vanet Property Asset Management is a trading name of Countrywide Residential Lettings Limited, Registered Office: Greenwood House, 1st Floor, 91-99 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0PP.
Registered in England Number 02995024 which is an agent and subsidiary of Countrywide Estate Agents, Registered Office: Greenwood House, 1st Floor, 91-99 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0PP.

Registered in England Number 00789476. Countrywide Residential Lettings Limited is regulated by RICS. Countrywide Estate Agents is an appointed representative of Countrywide Principal Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.