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Property Boom - February

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Ex-Council Housing is now Hot Property

Ever since the Conservative Party gave Council Tenants the Right to Buy in 1979, a significant portion of London’s social housing stock has passed into private ownership. Particularly with the current housing shortage, much of these ex-council houses have lost their traditional stigma and have become highly sought after. Many of London’s ex-council housing has great views over more prestigious properties, this is perhaps partly due to when bombings demolished one side of a square, the need for housing meant government housing being built overlooking more distinguished Georgian and Victorian homes. The council housing also has a much more pleasant view looking at prestigious properties than the houses opposite looking in their direction.

Covent Garden is a key example, where what is now expensive, privately owned residential property, started life as social housing. Although these properties take many forms and date from different eras, they all have one thing in common, and that is they all occupy a prime central London location and as such are highly sought after. Gone is any stigma of a more humble beginning and both rental and sales prices rival any in the area. Notable examples are Martlett Court where a development of modest, mostly one bedroom apartments, built as social housing around the beginning of the last century, now sell for just under £1,500 per square foot and are highly sought after due to their position close to Covent Garden Piazza and the Royal Opera House. Another example is Odhams Walk, completed in 1981 on the site of the Old Odhams print works, which was, at the time, hailed as a modern solution to troubled inner-city estates. Many of the homes here have, over the years, moved into private ownership and recently, a 2 bedroom flat sold for £1,165,000 at just under £1,400 per square foot.

As with all property, some developments are more attractive to buyers than others however, with Central London’s finite supply and the increasing demand of those looking to buy, even the less desirable locations can still command impressive prices.

With Central London rental yields currently averaging around 3.5%, many landlords find that ex-council properties can offer better yields due to their higher density of bedroom space as many were principally designed as family accommodation. This style of property particularly appeals to students who like to live in groups and who also appreciate the evenly proportioned rooms which are another typical design characteristic.

Jonathan Hudson, founder, Hudsons Property W1

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