BY ALICE FULLER
House prices have plummeted and first-time buyers are cashing in on the slump.
Buyers are paying less than a year ago in 26 London boroughs, according to Land Registry data analysed by housing developer Project Etopia.
Merton residents are making big savings, with property prices down five per cent on the previous 12 months.
The average cost of a home in Merton is £438,914, and the decrease has opened new opportunity for buyers looking for their first home.
House prices in Croydon are down 4.1 per cent with first-time buyers forking out an average of £303,995.
Wandsworth remains the most expensive South London borough with the average house price more than half a million pounds.
First-time buyers in Lewisham are paying £12,000 less than a year ago as prices have dropped by 3.5 per cent.
Bexley, Lambeth and Southwark also showed a dip in house prices for first-time buyers.
Bromley and Greenwich were the only South London boroughs to show a rise in house prices.
Property prices across the capital have fallen by an average of 1.9 per cent.
Rebecca Stott, director of first-time buyer property finder FoundIt London said: “I’ve had a huge increase of first-time buyers.
“Competition for flats has gone up and the general feel is that people are finding there are awesome mortgage options which are better value than what they are paying for their rental.
“One client of mine was focusing around Earlsfield but I looked across all of south west London for him and
we have found him a two-bedroom flat in Fulham which he didn’t think he could afford.”
SW19 Estate Agents director Luke Bennett said: “We have noticed many more first-time buyers come into the market in the past year, particularly in Wimbledon and Colliers Wood.”
But the price drop hasn’t enabled everyone to get on the property ladder.
Colliers Wood resident Emily Howarth, 25, said: “Even though prices have fallen, they’re still
unaffordable for the majority of first-time buyers as what you get for your money compared to
further out of London isn’t comparable.
“We definitely won’t be buying our first home in Merton at the current prices. We’re trading commute time for living space.”
Joseph Daniels, boss of Project Etopia said the falling market was good news for first-time buyers but warned of a potential shortage of properties to meet demand.
He said: “Intense competition in the capital means not everyone is benefiting from the slowdown and able to get on the ladder.
“It remains vital for first-time buyers to assess their options properly, expand their horizons and consider areas they hadn’t thought of before.”
Croydon Councillor Alison Butler said: “£300,000 is still much too expensive for many Croydon house hunters, which is why the council is prioritising boosting local supply of genuinely affordable rented homes, so people have the chance to save for a deposit.”
First-time buyers bought almost half the homes purchased in the first nine months of 2019, according to a separate report by Hamptons International.
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