diamond geezer

 Friday, June 22, 2018

Yesterday the Mayor of London launched "a new online property portal that offers Londoners a one-stop shop where they can search for an affordable home to buy in the capital."
n.b. It actually went live in April, but it launched yesterday.
n.b. Further phases of the portal will launch later this year.

"The portal aims to help Londoners who can’t afford to buy a home on the open market, with all homes funded through City Hall affordable housing programmes being advertised on the site and new properties being continually added."
n.b. This isn't for people who read the Evening Standard's Wednesday supplement. This is for people who can't get onto the housing ladder without a leg-up. That's a lot of people.

"The Homes for Londoners portal already lists over 1,400 shared ownership and 230 Help to Buy properties."
n.b. Yes, this is a drop in the ocean. No, it's not even a significant fraction of the 12,526 genuinely affordable homes started last year. But it's better than no portal.

So I thought I'd interrogate the portal to see what it could tell me. Here's a haphazard list of findings.

How many housing developments are included?
About 350. The number increased from below 350 to above 350 yesterday. Several of the developments include more than one property. Others are merely a single pre-owned flat.

Where are they?
Here's a map.

As you can see, they're not all in London. I've cropped out the pins in Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Hatfield and a small village near Stansted Airport. I'm not sure why developers outside the capital are being allowed to jump on the Mayor's bandwagon.

As you can see, some parts of London have more properties than others. The London boroughs of Richmond, Kingston, Redbridge and Havering only have 2 apiece, Bexley has 3, Sutton 4, Hillingdon 5, Bromley and Enfield and Barking & Dagenham 6, and Barnet 8. Outer London appears to be appallingly represented.

What's the cheapest?
Annoyingly, if you search for the cheapest property, the list includes all those with "price TBC", some of which look really expensive. I can only find three properties in London for less than £200,000. One's a 30 year-old flat in Thornton Heath for £195,000. One's for over-55s only in Mitcham. And the cheapest is a 1-bedroom flat in Bedfont, two miles from the nearest station, for £170,000. Don't all fight for it.

What's the most expensive?
The website says it's a 1-bedroom flat in North Harrow, for £2,502,222, but that's because there's an incorrect value in the database. As for the £895,000 house in Cricklewood, that's already reserved. As for the £850,000 property "in the old iconic St Ann's police station" near Seven Sisters station, I believe that's been sold. Which leaves this £817,000 2-bed apartment at West View Battersea at the top of the pile. Seriously, how much?

How is any of this affordable?
Shared ownership, that's how. You don't have to buy that West View Battersea home outright, you can buy 25% for £204,375. That sounds almost doable. The catch is that you'd need a "guidance household income between £72,869 - £90,000 per annum... plus savings of £40,875", and hey presto the whole thing's wilfully unaffordable again.

No really, how is any of this affordable?
Shared ownership, but you don't buy the most expensive property, obviously. How about a 2-bedroom flat at Weavers Quarter in Barking? It'd be £255,000 to buy outright, but a 30% share could be yours for just £76,500. Or a 2-bedroom flat back out in Bedfont, where 35% of £260,000 works out at just £91,000. They're a lot more promising. But because you have to pay a share of the mortgage and a chunk of rent, not to mention a monthly service charge, they still require "a guidance income of £37,000", which is well above the average wage.

Any good properties anywhere?
Blimey, a ground floor studio flat at the iconic Isokon Flats? A 50% share for only £200,000? That's many people's dream home. This isn't quite what I was expecting on here.

What about somewhere a bit more ordinary?
I thought I'd search my home postcode of E3. What's available on my doorstep? Nine properties.
» £108,750 for a 25% share of a 1-bed flat on St Paul's Way.
» £112,500 for a 25% share of a 3-bed flat at Bow River Village (or £165,000 for a 30% share) (or £200,750 for a 50% share of a 1-bed flat)
» £120,000 for a 25% share of a 2 bed apartment for the over 55's, overlooking Bromley by Bow station.
» £137,500 for a 25% share of a 2-bed flat on Fish Island.
» £201,250 for a 35% share of a 2-bed apartment not quite overlooking Victoria Park.
» £272,250 for a 55% share of a 2-bed flat down Devons Road way.
» Something not yet launched on St Paul's Way, all prices TBC.

What else can you find on the portal?
Have a dig. Take a look for yourself.

But it's not a lot, is it?
London has 2.4 million renters. This portal doesn't yet have 1500 properties. And most of the renters couldn't afford most of the properties anyway. The portal's a start. But unless you have the good fortune to be able to grab one of the handful of so-called bargains, the concept of affordability remains an unattainable dream.

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