David Lawrenson, the buy-to-let and property investment expert gives his personal views on whether the new high speed transport link from the Channel Tunnel and whether there are potential investment opportunities for buy-to-let landlords.
From Ebbsfleet in North West Kent, Paris is just two hours and a bit away – and it looks on the face of it as though all these areas will surely benefit, inevitably pushing up prices of houses and rents. Northfleet, Gravesend and surrounding areas near Ebbsfleet have been cheap for quite a while compared to the rest of the South East but I think there is a risk that the abundance of new houses planned for this part of Kent, could lead to an over-supply developing.
In fact there will about 30,000 houses built in the area between Dartford and Gravesend which is all part of the Thames Gateway regeneration scheme.
The scale of the development is big, including, in Ebbsfleet Valley next to the station itself, a massive development that will hold shops, offices and over 6,000 of these houses.
The new station is about 36 miles from London, next to the A2 and the village of Swanscombe and only about a mile from Northfleet which is in turn joined up to Gravesend. Dartford town centre is about 6 miles away to the west. Trains are now running to the continent but it won’t be open for local people to get to London until December 2009 when it will slash the journey time to London by a massive half an hour to just 17 minutes – though as yet no one knows how much this fast service will cost.
Property prices have been edging up surely and steadily. A standard 2 bed terrace house in an ordinary part of Gravesend last year was about £135,000 a year ago but a quick look at Rightmove shows they are now around the £185,000 mark. Rent in Gravesend give a good guide to the area – a standard 2 bed terrace goes for about £550 per month and a 4 bedroom property would be anywhere from £800 per month upward. Average prices for all properties in Gravesend were about £145K in 2003 and are about £215K now (source: upmystreet.co.uk) a rise of about 48%, and not far off the London rate of increase.
Amongst the new developments coming into Dartford are Barratts and Crest Nicholson who are building apartments and homes priced from £210,000, £240,000.
But will the international link and its position do the trick for house prices and rents in the area? Obviously, other new transport links in London have driven forward new frontier areas such as Canary Wharf – and East and South London have already felt the benefits of the Docklands Light Railway and the extension to the Jubilee Line – and the soon to be extended East London line is already pushing up prices in places on the new line especially in areas like Forest Hill, Brockley and Hackney. Of course, there is a risk that people hoping to get in on the back of the transport and other developments at Ebbsfleet could fall victims to developers over-hyping and over-supplying a location and setting prices above what an area can really sustain with adverse consequences for home owners and investors.
This phenomenon was well illustrated in the “Truth about Property” TV programme screened on 25th October where investors in flats in some areas of the north 3 years ago are now facing big losses.
It could be worth investors taking a look, however a local agent I know says the area is stuffed full of landlords chasing a small supply of tenants, so watch out – this could be a buy to let ghetto in the making.
David Lawrenson is the author of Successful Property Letting – How to Make Money in Buy to Let the UK’s top selling buy to let book and runs a property investment seminar and consultancy company at www.lettingfocus.com.