Tag: location

How to Spot an Up-and-Coming Area

How to Spot an Up-and-Coming Area

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So you’ve seen the house prices soar in areas like Shoreditch, Clapham and Camden. Now you want a piece of the pie. Or are you just a hipster looking to move somewhere before it becomes stuffy and cramped with chain restaurants? Either way, if you look hard enough there are a few key ways to tell you’re in an up-and-coming area. Here are some of the more notable tells.

Independent Restaurants, Coffee Shops and Delis

Have you noticed an increase in the number of independently run delis or coffee shops in an area? This is a clear sign that people living there possess a level of disposable income synonymous with up-and-coming neighbourhoods. If you’re seeing chain restaurants or coffee shops like Starbucks, stay away. It’s likely the area has already expanded to its full capacity.

Independent food stores are not necessarily a sure fire way of an up-and-coming area. Get a feel for the vibe there too. If the place is full and buzzing, you’re likely to be on the right track. Ideally, there’ll be numerous retailers like this, maybe coupled with a small art gallery or independent fashion retailer too.

Business Investment

Has a big business registered an interest? If a large company, corporation or employer has bought offices in the area there’s a very strong chance it’s going to boom. First of all, there’s the added population influx this will cause, then you’ll begin to see more competitors or like-minded brands move into the area too. This does come with a big caveat and it’s especially prevalent for small towns. If there’s only one large-scale employer from one industry, the area is likely to decline dramatically if they pull out. Take a look at some of the former mining towns for a clear example of this.

Area Demographic

Take a walk through the area and be particularly observant of the type of people you see. If you’re surrounded by middle aged businessmen and women donning expensive suits, this isn’t the place for you. If however, you’re spotting an unusually high number of 20-30 year olds, there’s a chance you’re looking at an up-and-coming area. This age group tends to have a lot of disposable income which is guaranteed to attract businesses.

Transport Links

This is an absolute must. If an area has poor public transport links, it’s not likely to see a boom anytime soon. For instance, if we’re discussing London, look for an area that’s slightly removed from the stuffy inner-city life but is still close enough to commute to major employment hotspots. Transport developments like the HS1 & HS2 railways are also going to create a frenzy of interest, though you’ve probably already missed the boat on these two examples. Large scale development like this will lead to a very swift wave of regeneration in an area.

Estate Agents, House Shares, Sales and DOM

So, this is a huge tell of any up and coming area. Look at the market activity for the neighbourhood. If you’re noticing a sudden crop of estate agencies opening up, they’re noticing a potential. If there are plenty of house shares being advertised, it’s another tell of the young professional demographic moving in. Then consider the price properties are being sold for. If they’re steadily increasing and the number of days on the market (DOM) is decreasing then you’re looking at an area in demand.

If you want to really drill down into an area and find out about the crime stats, travel info, potential nuisances, schools, amenities and local demographics, fill out a Property Detective report today. All you need is the postcode!


Property Detective Continues Work With Independent Estate Agents

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Property Detective, is pleased to announce another collaboration with an innovative and professional estate agency located in several boroughs throughout London, Elliot Lee Estate Agents.

Elliot Lee’s team members are recognized for their professional work and tireless efforts for both their clients and in support of the local community. Property Detective is pioneering the effort to increase transparency in the home buying process, through their detailed reports which are packaged with information including schools, nurseries, demographics, local amenities, crime rates, travel connections and much more.

“We are thrilled to enhance Elliot Lee’s client offering. We know they are a pioneering team with a focus on core values while using innovative methods to provide the best service to their clients,” says Barry Bridges, Founder of PropertyDetective.com.

“We are delighted they see our local area reports as a valuable asset to their professional services,” adds Bridges.

Teaming up with Elliot Lee increases Property Detective’s reach by giving Elliot Lee’s customers access to the in-depth report.


Top 20 Family Friendly Locations in the Home Counties

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If you’re thinking of starting a family and are considering a move out of London to the “Home Counties”, you might be asking yourself “where exactly is the best place to go?”.

Now for the first time the team here at Property Detective have done what they do best – challenged themselves to find the answer on behalf of their users. We have devised and then re-defined the appropriate algorithm, taken a large pile of relevant data, and then crunched the numbers to bring you the answers to this ever-relevant question (We have also identified the top family friendly streets in London).

The Home Counties – What are they?

A quick recap: The home counties have long been considered the areas that Londoners retreat to at the end of a busy week; this is increasingly true today as London workers are priced out of central London by escalating rents and house prices, and so a vast majority of London commuters now live in these neighbouring/bordering counties. On the face of it they offer commuter access to the city of London and (slightly more) affordable family homes as such they are a mecca for professional couples with young families wanting a little bit of fresh air and green space. If this is you, then you’re exactly the type of home-mover we can help.

The Average London Commute

Firstly let’s focus on the areas that fall within a distance you’re willing to commute. This is now small distance because if there’s one thing us Londoners know, it’s how to commute. The ONS stats show that the average UK commute is 54 minutes according, but the average London commute is mind-numbing 74 minutes! Based on the 2011 census the ONS produced a map of where London commuters lived:

(Dark blue means over 20-40% of workers from this area commute to London. Mid blue is 10-20%of workers and light blue is 5-10%)

Our friends and partners in Travel Time crime, igeolise can tell us exactly where you can live if 75 minutes is your commute time cut-off; here’s their results on a map:


As suspected this points to neighbouring regions in the Home Counties including areas as far as Tonbridge, Reading, Chelmsford and Milton Keynes places serviced by fast and frequent trains.

Although the definition of the “Home Counties” is a recognised to be a bit fluid, for the purpose of our research we have included Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Essex and Sussex, all of which embody the quintessentially home counties characteristics of comfortable middle-class prosperity and are known to be desirable locations.

So, the big question, are they actually family friendly and where are the best areas – and let’s be specific, which are the best streets to live?

Drum roll please…

Here’s the Top 20 Places to Raise a Family in the Home Counties:

Street High score What’s great about it?
Birch Lane, Flaunden 98% Primary schools – nearest 6 are rated outstanding or good!
Streatley Road, Sundon 97% Childminders
Lower Harpendon Road, Harpendon 96% Primary schools – nearest 14 are rated outstanding or good!!
Swinley Road, Ascot 96% Childcare + nurseries
Chertsey Road, Windlesham 95% Primary schools – nearest 8 are rated outstanding or good!
Flamsteadbury Road, Redbourn 95% Childcare + nurseries
Long Hill Road, Bracknell 95% Playgrounds + parks
The Common, Amersham 92% Playgrounds + parks
Dagnall Road, Great Gaddesden 92% NCT community
Tebworth Road, Leighton Buzzard 92% Other families
Hatchet Lane, Windsor 92% NCT community
Hammerpond Road, Horsham 87% Childminders + nurseries
Box End Road, Kempston 83% Kids activities
Cheddington Road, Tring 82% Nurseries
Silchester Road, Bramley 82% Maternity facilities
Long Mill Lane, Sevenoaks 81% Childminders + nurseries
Runworth Road, Basingstoke 80% Kids shops
Priory Lane, Farnham 80% NCT community
Downhall Road, Hatfield Heath 79% Kids activities
Bryanston Avenue, Twickenham 77% Childminders + nurseries

If you live in these places – lucky you! And if you’re a London commuter and thinking of relocating for your young family then we recommend checking out these family friendly hot spots.

You can check out the family friendliness of your area by trying our index.

Shrigley Road

Why is Shrigley Road, Macclesfield, such a good place to start a family?

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Since unveiling Shrigley Road, Macclesfield as the best place in the country to settle and start a family we’ve had a lot of people ask us specifically why it scores so highly. Without revealing the secrets of our algorithm, we can shed some light as to the key drivers for Shrigley Road being such a high-performing outlier:

It has an almost unprecedent array of Outstanding primary schools locally

Across the country, whenever we generate a Property Detective report, we usually find that the local primary and secondary schools around a property are something of a mixed bag: you’ll always get one or two ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ schools, but if you’re unlucky there will also be an Inadequate one in there, or one that ‘Requires Improvement’ too.

Not so with Shrigley Road.

In a rare case of amazement, the nearest four primary schools to Shrigley Road are all rated Outstanding, which just isn’t heard of normally. This means that if you live in Shrigley Road you are virtually guaranteed a place at an Outstanding primary school – which is worth a huge amount of value to a parent (not least the certainty that comes with it).

There’s a wealth of childcare options available locally

Usually, when you get a location that has a reputation for being popular with families, we see a shortage of childcare options as a result. In fact – anecdotally – we’d go further to say that it’s not uncommon to see a situation in ‘parent-friendly towns’ where you need to register your child for a popular local nursery before the baby is even born!

Not so with Shrigley Road; there’s a huge number of childminders, nurseries, nannies and playgrounds all within a short drive, meaning it’s great for the professional or working parent.

There’s a strong parental network nearby

National Statistics paint a picture of this area as being popular with young families, so there will be plenty of social opportunities to connect with other mums and dads locally, either just ‘out and about’ or via the myriad of events and activities in the area, geared towards babies, toddlers and their parents.

Not only that, but Shrigley Road is covered by a very active NCT network, so mums and dads living here will be well-connected to other new parents via the courses and events laid on.

It’s a great mix of ‘everything you need’ plus ‘green space’

If you need somewhere to let your kids expend their energy, Shrigley Road is well connected to lots of parks, green spaces and countryside, so you get the best of fresh air with plenty of outdoor space.

At the same time, Poynton and Stockport are a short drive away, so if there’s anything you need either from an amenities or facility point-of-view, you’ve got it on your doorstep: doctors, chemists, dentists, libraries, leisure centres, clubs, hospitals and more.


While Shrigley Road might look to be an unlikely winner in isolation, it’s connectivity to the local area and ‘everything you might need’ makes it a deserving victor in our family friendliness index, even beating the top streets in London. It really does cater for a new or growing family extremely well, providing some food-for-thought for those who might assume that neighbouring urban areas are the place to be seen.

You can check out the family friendliness of your area by trying our index.


What’s the difference between a place and a location?

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The language of location has always been incredibly fascinating for me, possibly because I’m something of a geography geek, ever since the effervescently-ginger Mr Young introduced me to stacks, stumps and longshore drift at some point in the early 1990s.

Property is built around it (location, location, location), feelings are grown within it (home) and relativity is described as a result of it (place), but what does it mean to have a fixed, known, location – and why is that interesting?

Here at Property Detective, the underlying structure for our website is something that we refer to as a ‘data ladder’. This describes how you can start with the smallest possible geographical unit – a pinpoint in a map – and move up the scale, getting bigger and bigger, until (notionally) you end up with continents, or perhaps even planets.

In terms of granularity, a ‘position’ might be seen as the most detailed unit of location; I am ‘here’, at 123 Smith Street, or at co-ordinates XYZ. But as a system it’s inherently flawed, as our friends at What3Words point out: many of the world’s inhabitants live in locations with no recognisable addressing system…and co-ordinates are difficult to communicate eloquently…meaning that the idea of ‘position’ is fuzzy at best.

But as you move out beyond that, to places that might best be described as ‘areas’, things get even more complicated.

In the first instance, many areas are referenced to a common, colloquial, general-parlance name. For such locations, how do you know where they start, or where they end? Or even whether you are within them?

For some places, it’s easy; witness the signs ‘welcoming you’ to Kent, or tell you that you are leaving Rickmansworth, or thanking you for driving slowly in Brasted. The assumption must be that such signs are the demarcation of a town or village’s border, beyond which properties have a different address and a different parental administration.

For others, it’s more difficult. Like ‘Soho': a term as widely used as any town name anywhere. But where does Soho start? Reference to it generally means a ‘vague area'; you know when you’re in Soho, but you only know it by reference to the places that are staunchly ‘Soho’ in nature; what about those on the periphery, between Soho and Holborn, or towards Green Park?

Such quandaries providing interesting debate for us here at Property Detective, along with their fair share of problems.

Firstly, how do we group locations or places or points of interest by reference to a parent location, where the parental location is the term of reference for people in the community?

Take supermarkets, for example. We present the nearest location for each of the major brands of supermarket by reference to the individual property that a report is being generated for. But people don’t link supermarkets to address; they think of them as Sainsburys in Sevenoaks, or Tesco in Taunton.

Which is all well and good, except there is no universally-recognised dataset that identifies the territorial extent on one location over another, except insofar as administrative borders are required.

Constituencies: fine? Equally, country, districts, wards, LSOA and more. And even some towns, but not all. Nor any neighbourhoods, regions, boroughs or other colloquial communities. Which makes life very tough, even more so when we give consideration to the functionality that depends on having a clear ‘point A’ and ‘point B’ as part of its performance. Like travel time.

Fortunately, we have some help in that regard. Since early 2014, Property Detective is delighted to have been working with Charlie Davies and his team over at iGeolise, who we first met in 2012 at the University of Surrey and their ‘SetSquared’ pitch event.

iGeolise provide accurate travel time calculations from any two points in the UK, combining options that allow you to calculate time and distance by reference to transportation method and much more. Put simply: it’s the difference between other sites that give you an approximate travel time ‘as the crow flies’ and us, which gives you accurately and in detail.

A couple of months ago we caught up with Charlie and talked to him about the travel time platform, to get an insight into the data and infrastructural challenges that his product solves, by reference to the question of ‘what makes a place a location’?




Are we property-ladder obsessed?

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I’ve always said that if aliens were to land on Earth in the next few years, they would gain a very warped sense of what priorities the human race had within its society, based solely on the content of the television shows we watch. Shows where adults vote on dogs that sing on demand. Programmes where people are paid bonuses to answer questions from other people. Oh, and a raft of broadcasts all focusing on places we’ve built and the people who live in them.

As a nation, we most definitely are property obsessed, but I’m not entirely sure it’s either healthy or rational. You can’t flick through the TV listings these days without encountering some sort of programme that touches on or reflects upon the state of the UK property market, or a homeowner’s desire to progress within it. Location, Location, Location…Escape to the County…Homes under the Hammer…A Place in the Sun…the list goes on. And although it might be argued that many of these happen to be produced and shown on one particular channel (Channel 4) with commercial sponsors behind it, I think it’s fair to say that we simply cannot get enough about property.

But why is there such an obsession? Why are so many column inches dedicated to interest rates, or the rate of house price inflation? Why – when an announcement is made about changes to mortgage regulations – do the media jump and the consumers take note? What’s driving our lust for property?

On the one hand, it’s easy to understand. There are millions of homeowners in this country and our obsession can be traced back to a very understandable and entirely justifiable interest in self-preservation, or at least the desire to avoid loss. Homeowners take an interest in property because it affects what they own, and therefore – to an extent – their financial security. I’d be tempted to add ‘happiness’ to the end of that sentence, but I’m cautious that it might be taken out of context: growing house prices are clearly not a good thing on nett for the nation. BUT, if house prices rise then for those owners only, it is objective ‘a good thing’. And if they drop, no owner could argue that this is a positive result, even if it’s welcomed by the many millions of people struggling to save a deposit or secure a place on the property ladder themselves.

But I think it’s more than just financial self-preservation; I think it strikes at the very hard of our nation as a meritocracy and plugs into what many might argue is quite a sad, vacuous, tete-a-tete that mainstream media is cultivating for owners vis-à-vis other owners and indeed non-owners alike.

An article published last year set forward a fascinating theory that Generation Y have never had it so bad. The gist of the author’s argument was that the Baby Boomer generation have benefited from a rapid, lucrative and unexpected rise in property values over the past 30 years, leading to an accumulation of ‘unearned wealth’ as it were. Tempered by an inherited attitude that “hard work pays off” and that “saving is prudent”, people in their 50s and 60s now find themselves mortgage-free, owning properties that are worth a considerable sum. Good for them.

But for their children – Generation Y – times are much tougher. Rather than be tough to save, or that hard work pays off, today’s 20 and 30-year olds are growing up with greater expectations of personal wealth and success, having witnessed the boom years of their parents and thinking ‘this is going to happen to me too’, even if it’s not.

Coupled with the growth of social media – in which everyone shares positive reflections of their life and edits out the bad bits – it breeds a misperception that ‘everyone else has succeeded, or has ownership of something…whereas I don’t’. And in turn, this leads to a competitive culture in our society, as evidenced by the phrase ‘have and have nots’. Such a starker, harsher dichotomy nowhere else can be found.

So, in a nutshell, our obsession with property is really an obsession with ownership – and a desire to benchmark ourselves against our peers, partly on the basis that it’s a really easy, tangible way to compare, even if the comparison is entirely false, unfair…and undesirable. The question ‘how much is your house worth?’ is to the 2000s what ‘how much do you earn?’ was to the yuppy-era; the false gold of statistics that leads only to soured dreams and deception.

Our appetite for property news and property shows is, therefore, a means of calibration; a chance for us to compare and benchmark, and see where we fit in the grand pecking order of wealth; a chance for the 99.99% of us who don’t make the Sunday Times Rich List to see our standing vis-à-vis our peers at a much lower level, even if such a competition is ultimately futile.

Is this sad? Probably so. Property isn’t everything…and in fact it isn’t much at all. Just bricks and mortar, capable of demolition in hours, destruction in minutes, or change in weeks. Nothing could be more transient than the place we live, and yet for some it provides the only ever-standing means of keeping up with the Joneses.