London's divided property market

Far from simply being a national phenomenon, the great North vs South property divide can be found on a city level, with new market analysis from Benham and Reeves revealing how properties south of the river are outperforming the North on house price growth and sales volume.

Related topics:  Property,  London,  house prices
Property | Reporter
23rd May 2023
tower bridge london
"Of course, like the wider UK market, London is fragmented. While some boroughs struggle to maintain prices and demand, their neighbouring boroughs can soar"

Benham and Reeves have analysed the housing markets across the boroughs of North and South London, measuring sales volume, average house price, and annual price change in each borough to reveal how the current performance of the North, which is historically more desirable and expensive, compares with that of the South.

The data shows that the South is leading the way in terms of the average number of homes sold over the last year, averaging 3,003 sales per borough in the past 12 months.

With a total of 4,552 sales, Wandsworth is the most active market in the South, followed by Bromley (4,374) and Croydon (3,953). The fewest Southern sales have come in Kingston-upon-Thames (1,961).

Meanwhile, in the North, the average 12-month sales per borough come in at 1,929.

Barnet is leading the way with 3,415 total sales, followed by Havering (3,017) and Tower Hamlets (2,894). The lowest number of sales north of the river has come from the City of London, where just 141 transactions occurred over the year.

Despite this strong performance from the South, North London remains the more expensive side of the Thames.

The average house price in the North is £594,634 compared to £519,289 in the South.

The North’s most expensive boroughs are Kensington & Chelsea (£1.3m), the City of Westminster (£968,017), and the City of London (£960,868).

The most affordable are Barking & Dagenham (£344,518) and Newham (£417,402).

In the South, the most expensive boroughs are Richmond-upon-Thames (£760,775), Wandsworth (£639,194), and Merton (£584,378), while the most affordable are Bexley (£399,578) and Croydon (£425,364).

But the North’s house price dominance over the South might not last forever because, during this slower, cooling housing market that we’ve seen in the past year, price growth has been much stronger in the South.

Across Southern boroughs, the average annual price growth is 5%, with Greenwich (9.2%) and Kingston-upon-Thames (9.1%) leading the charge and none of the boroughs recording negative growth.

In the North, average growth is just 3.3%, led by the City of London (13.4%) and Tower Hamlets (11%), while five Northern boroughs have seen prices fall, including the City of Westminster (-8.8%), Kensington & Chelsea (-5.2%), and Camden (-2.2%).

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented:

“Depending on what side of the river you live on, you will have fierce opinions on which is best - north or south?

"But while the north enjoyed many years widely considered the most desirable, trendy, and culturally significant part of town, the south has also come into its own in recent years, thanks to the emergence of hipster hotspots such as Peckham.

"Of course, like the wider UK market, London is fragmented. While some boroughs struggle to maintain prices and demand, their neighbouring boroughs can soar.

"So while we may have seen higher demand to the south in terms of buyer appetites, many areas of the north remain extremely popular. Barnet is leading the way in this respect, largely driven by the huge investment and growth seen in Colindale, which has enticed a great number of buyers of late.”

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