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Latest h&f property prices

Supplied by Land Registry for July to Sep 2012

Average property price in h&f: £740k
Up 14.8% on previous year
Average semi-detacted: £1.4m
Average terraced: £1.1m
Average flat: £466k

See how H&F compares with other areas on the BBC website

» h&f property sales and lettings

Property 2013 - local agents review the market

By Tim Harrison

What will the property market do in 2013? Will rent levels remain steady? Will house prices continue to track upwards? We asked Hammersmith & Fulham’s leading estate agents to assess 2012, then gaze into the future and predict how the housing market will perform in the coming year.

Stamp duty changes announced in the March 2012 budget increased the fee for a £2m house by £40,000, which has contorted the market at that level. There is still a drift into Fulham, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush from central London, and good family homes in the right location are still selling at a hefty premium. Most estate agents seem upbeat about 2013, although continuing economic uncertainty means there is caution in the market.

Despite widespread concerns about the Olympic effect on the market, 2012 has seen steady growth (between 10 and 12 per cent rises in property values, and five to seven per cent increases in rents in Shepherds Bush).

Paul Cosgrove,
partner, Finlay Brewer, 138 Shepherds Bush Road, W6 7PB (020 7371 4171)
"Looking back, 2012 has been very good in terms of prices achieved. It’s been very product-driven; if the property is good, and it’s priced correctly, it has sold very well. The increase in stamp duty above £2million has affected the market… and we sell more houses at between £2m and £2.5m than all our competitors put together. With an unmodernised house in, say, Caithness Road, Brook Green, on at £1.8m, you’ll have a fight for it, but at £2.1m or £2.2m you’ll have a lot of people wanting to pay £2m. It has distorted the market in the short term, but has less of an effect as people become more accustomed to it. The effect of the increase means that in London the number of transactions above £2m are down a third, year on year.

"There will be a continued lack of supply and strong demand across the board in 2013. Any good flats, particularly, are flying out of the door. In spring 2012, we had high demand at the £1.3-£1.5m mark, but had very little on. Now there’s more, but demand is much lower. The market is strong, but there’s an underlying mood of caution; there’s a little bit of wait-and-see going on with both buyers and sellers. We have a lot of properties under offer currently, but property sales are taking longer to complete, which is an indication of the market." 
Robert Barr
Sales manager, Kerr & Co Residential, 75 Goldhawk Road, W12 8EH (020 8743 1166)
"The property market this year has been exceptional for our clients, with record prices being set from some of the best-calibre buyers we have seen so far. Limited stock levels has been the issue over the past 12 months, meaning those looking to buy have had to compete fiercely for each and every property we have sold.

"Through our guidance our clients have reaped the benefit of this competition among buyers. We have seen an influx of buyers moving from central London due to European investors looking for a safe haven to put their money. Without a clear end in sight, this exodus from Central London is likely to continue. So if you are looking at making the move in 2013, we would advise getting yourself into the best possible position prior to searching for a new home by lining up your mortgage (if required) and solicitors before you even cross the threshold of any property. There is little to suggest a significant change in stock levels in 2013, so competition will again be strong for all properties put up for sale. Having already set price records on various streets this year, we fully expect 2013, through Kerr & Co’s dedicated service, to be another record-setting year for all our clients."

J ohn Horton
Director, Horton & Garton, 176 King Street, W6 0RA (020 8819 0510)
What a year! A brilliant start to 2012, both for sales and lettings, before everything was distorted by bad weather, the Olympics (I had my doubts, but was completely won over), football, Wimbledon and the Jubilee. Buyers and sellers dried up. Then the market came back with a burst. There was a delayed reaction as the backlog cleared, then it all quietened down again in terms of new instructions.

"These are difficult days. There aren’t so many cash buyers out there, and sales are taking longer to go through. What’s encouraging people to move is continuing low interest rates. So what does 2013 hold? There’s still a shortage of properties, particularly of one-bedroom flats. People aren’t selling them, they are renting them out and keeping them as investments. You hardly get any first-time buyers in Hammersmith, you have ‘investor buyers’ looking to rent out their properties, while first-time buyers struggle to raise 25 per cent, even 40 per cent, deposits, and the mortgage goalposts keep moving.

"I think through 2013 there will still be a shortage of good properties, and a high demand for family houses. As a result, prices are inevitably going to keep increasing. But look around the streets and you’ll see more skips and more scaffolding; there’s a lot of improving, rather than moving, going on. I always check out the list of planning consents reported in the local paper, and the basement conversions are rising. The market is steady, and fairly flat, at the moment, but signs are positive for the coming year. We’re seeing more realism when it comes to valuations, and we are having to expand our sales and lettings team to cope with a growth in business and market share.

"Hammersmith is becoming more fashionable, and more family-friendly. People used to move to places like Chiswick or Fulham, but now people aren’t moving away from W6. Hammersmith is becoming the new Zone 1. All the talk at the school gate is about school places; that’s such a big factor around here. People have been moving to the area from Kensington & Chelsea to rent because of the new free school; it’s really proving a lure.

"We’re dealing with more lettings, and all our staff on the lettings side are ARLA-qualified. We have no tenants who are behind with their rent. People are more and more particular about the area where they want to live, and that’s something we understand at Horton & Garton, where all our staff live locally and know the area."

Paul Jorgensen
Partner, Jorgensen Turner, 234 Uxbridge Road, W12 7JD  (020 8222 6050)

"Future trends are notoriously difficult to assess, but based on his experience, Paul Jorgensen sees no slow down in the general movement of people being priced out of Zone 1 and discovering areas such as Shepherds Bush. It’s true of other areas too. Years ago, people in Fulham would never consider Shepherds Bush, but now those same people tell their friends about it.

“Over the past year it’s been a tough market for available property, but there has been fantastic demand; the area’s become a real destination for people. People are actually choosing Shepherds Bush, the schools are improving, the transport infrastructure is excellent and there’s a buzz about the area.”

“We train our staff to know the area thoroughly, and we make sure vendors and landlords get feedback once a week, and call within 24 hours of a viewing to give feedback. It’s an owner-run business, and it’s our baby. The owners drive the business on a daily basis."

Philip Wooller
Owner, Philip Wooller, 145 Askew Road, W12 9AU (020 8811 2929)
As a launch offer, Philip Wooller has removed the price tags from its sales service, leaving it up to clients to decide on the appropriate fee. It’s a new approach to selling and letting, and it’s certainly eye-catching. There’s no fixed fee or pre-agreed percentage. You pay him what you feel his service is worth.
You know there’s something different about this office when you stand outside 145 Askew Road and look at it. Stylish, elegant and minimalist, it looks… well, nothing like an estate agent. On the window is a statement. We know that every house becomes a home, that every home belongs to a street, and that every street makes a community. We’re here to make this happen.

“We wanted somewhere welcoming, not too big, that doesn’t feel intimidating. Not many estate agents start off on their own and  under their own name." Philip, with 20 years’ experience in estate agency, is supported on the lettings side of the business by Jen Christodoulou, who has a background both in lettings and IT management, and lives just off Askew Road. “Both of us have young families, with children at school locally,” said Philip, who spent 13 years with Bective Leslie Marsh in Brook Green and four years with Douglas & Gordon in Hammersmith before deciding to set up on his own. 

So how does Philip assess the current market in the Askew Road area, and Shepherds Bush generally? “People are very settled here, and for good reason are very attached to their homes and area. We’d expect to see a continuation of the low sales volumes that have approximately halved since the peak of the market in 2007. For this reason, prices will remain robust and continue to raise eyebrows." 

The initial reaction to Philip’s opening offer has been good, with potential clients with bigger properties warming to his offer, and questioning the fees quoted by rival agents. “If I say to them ‘You decide’, it’s a new alternative. I had to come up with something different that reflects the trust ethos of the business. You could use me as a 0% fee agent, but I aim to make you happy to pay me!”

Duncan Crossey
Owner and director, Belvoir! Chelsea & Fulham, 632 Fulham Road, SW6 5RT (020 7736 2786)
Lettings specialist Belvoir! in Fulham Road is part of a 145-strong national network, focused on giving a professional yet personal service to landlords and tenants in Fulham, Chelsea and surrounding areas. Owner and director Duncan Crossey, who is at the helm of the flagship west London office, said 2012 had been a year of two halves, punctuated by the ‘golden wonder’ of the Olympics in the late summer.

“That condensed the usual autumn demand into a shorter period, meaning we had a very busy September and October. More recently the market has slowed because of seasonal, festive factors, and because more people are reviewing their position in the light of gloomy headlines about the economy in the UK, and throughout Europe. We believe that many tenants, provided they are happy in the property they occupy, will be staying put rather than moving, leading to a general shortage of rental stock. It means that, in 2013, rents of available properties are likely to be stable rather than soften further.”

More people have been approaching Belvoir! in the tail end of 2012, inquiring about buy-to-let possibilities, as interest rates remain low. “Fulham will always be a popular rental area, rivalling other so-called sought-after parts of London, and providing investors with both capital appreciation and rental return. Accordingly, when some residents move away, they now look at trying to retain their local property as an investment for the future,” he said. As to what to buy, “the demand for one-bedroom flats in SW6 is just insatiable, although any flat that comes with outdoor space will be constantly in demand too”.

Duncan said that his general advice to landlords and investors for 2013 was to remain pragmatic, and keep in mind that getting and retaining reliable tenants who can afford to, and will care for, the property they rent was as important as extracting every last possible penny of rental money. “Three things in balance are important in the current market,” he said. “The asking rent, the quality of the tenant, and negating void periods.” Belvoir! offers property appraisals and viewings seven days a week, 8am-8pm.

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