Focus On Harrow: Why this north west London suburb is popular with families and first time buyers
The north west London suburb of Harrow is all too often synonymous with the prestigious boys’ boarding school with which it shares its name. Certainly, the school has influenced the growth of central Harrow through the centuries; following a big expansion of the school in the 19th century, housing was built for its staff resulting in many of the larger Victorian and Georgian terraces that fetch high prices today.
The second housebuilding boom took off after the Metropolitan line came to Harrow-on-the-hill in 1880, and since the area has become known for its diverse demographic of residents, green spaces and good schools.
“North Harrow was built on the outskirts of the capital during the 1920s to lure people out of grimy inner London,” says David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International. “Built at densities which wouldn’t be viable today, North Harrow offers buyers who tend to be upsizing families a generous amount of space for their money. Its gently curving roads of semi-detached houses carry an increasing rarity value as London builds upwards rather than outwards to accommodate its growing population.”
Typically, the housing stock is fairly traditional with Art & Crafts-influenced terraces joining their period counterparts and semis built in the 1930s. While these are popular with families, first time buyers are also coming to the area in droves, fleeing the higher prices further into London. Indeed, Hamptons’ data reveals that first time buyers have outnumbered landlords two-to-one in 2016, with 39 per cent of buyers in the area getting on the property ladder.
“Harrow’s fantastic transport links, combined with its redevelopment, have led to an influx of professional buyers coming to the area,” says Shaun Bailey, sales manager at Foxtons Harrow. “We also see a lot of interest from families, with people moving from areas such as Ealing, Finchley, Willesden Green and Pinner due to its comparative affordability.”
Hamptons says house prices have risen by 12 per cent in the last year and property took 43 days to sell, twice as quick as the London average. As a result, there are a few new build developments cropping up. The Comer Group were one of the earliest developers to get in with Bradstowe House, completely finished in the town centre; next will be Beckley Homes’ Letchford Terrace in September with six townhouses from £565,000; followed by Persimmon Homes’ Harrow View West, a whopping 600 houses and apartments from £500,000 by the end of the year; then Redrow’s Lyon Square which promises 310 new homes by next summer.
This quiet spot in Zone 5, with great family homes, opportunities for first-time buyers, transport and schools, offers a lot of the things that are in high demand in the London housing market right now. Bailey from Foxtons adds, “Still offering good value for money, Harrow is now considered as one of London’s top areas for predicted increase in property prices.”
There’s evidence of a school on the Harrow site from 1243, but the institution as we know it today was founded by John Lyons in 1572 under Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I. Aside from its students, it also receives 10,000 visitors a year on its historical tours. If you’re a big golf fan, there’s Playgolf London nearby, a 9-hole ‘Majors’ course with golf coaching, a fitness centre and it’s one of the rare places in London where you can play baseball. For a bit of light refreshment, local favourite The Dolls House on the Hill is a cafe and restaurant behind a Georgian shop front serving up afternoon tea in vintage cups. For something a tad stronger, try The Castle pub on West Street, a classic Victorian pub with open fires, wooden floors and period lamps, clocks and fittings. Incanto on the High Street is also a beloved contemporary Italian restaurant with an in-house deli set in a modern refit of an old Post Office.