Locksmith kingston on soar
© Barry Phillips
A £250, 000 budget can still buy a property on the Zone 1 fringes of central London, such as a small studio in St John's Wood, moments from Regent's Park (above)The average first-time buyer spends almost £250, 000 simply to get on the lowest rung of the London property ladder. And painfully saving for a hefty deposit and negotiating a reasonable mortgage deal are only their first two hurdles.
A quarter of a million pounds is a hefty sum but you need to make it work hard in the capital if you'd like to live in a cool, central location, a smart suburb — or if you need a little more space than the classic first-time flatlet provides.
For buyers determined to live in the thick of things it will mean thinking small. And while £250, 000 is unlikely to get you into prime central London you can find studio homes on its Zone 1 fringes.
Think small but centralYou don't get better located than Bloomsbury, and a flat in a grand Thirties block is on the market for £247, 500. The compromise here is space. You are walking distance from everywhere but you get a minute galley kitchen, bathroom, and living room for your money, totalling 272sq ft.
Alternatively you could opt for another compact studio in St John's Wood: on the market for £240, 000, it is small, but close to the open spaces of Regent's Park and St John's Wood Tube, which is on the Jubilee line.
Live above a quiet shopAnother way to turn a £250, 000 budget into a great home is to live above a shop where homes are traditionally up to 25 per cent cheaper than "normal" flats.
Not all mortgage lenders are enthusiastic about this sort of property, but if you are able to find the finance you could consider a roomy, three-bedroom split-level flat above a fireplace shop on Kingston Road, Wimbledon, on the market with Finch & Co for £250, 000.
Another choice would be a roomy one-bedroom flat above a locksmith in West Hampstead which is on the market for £249, 950 with Greene & Co (greene.co.uk).
Katharine Connolly, manager of Finch and Co, warned buyers to go for quiet shops and avoid flats over restaurants. "You may have issues with noise, smell, rats even, re-saleability, and mortgage companies will often not lend, " she says. "But if it's a 'normal' shop you will be able to get a much bigger space because they are generally huge."
£250, 000: a one-bedroom flat in a glorious Regency townhouse in Camberwell
Affordable period livingIf you want architectural splendour, then there are some fantastic pockets of affordable period housing in Camberwell. Wooster and Stock has a one-bedroom flat with garden in a glorious Regency townhouse on the market for £250, 000.
Trains from nearby Denmark Hill to Victoria take five minutes and later this year the second section of the East London line extension will swing into action, linking the area to Canary Wharf.
Another Camberwell option is not quite so stunning — but offers more square footage for your money. Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (kfh.co.uk) is selling a two-bedroom flat in a Victorian conversion in Shenley Road for £250, 000.
Daniel Beckson, sales manager at KFH, said Camberwell's charm lies in its central location and its pockets of tree-lined streets — those south of the Peckham Road being particularly desirable.