Where should I live? Property investment hotspots
Whether you're a first-time buyer or a buy-to-let investor looking to grow your money, up-and-coming areas - or 'property hotspots' - can be great places in which to buy a house or flat.
Interactive house price map
Use the interactive map below to see what's been happening to house prices in your postcode district. If you're looking for an area where prices are still relatively low but growing fast (and so potentially good to invest in), use the filter to see the districts where properties are still selling for below the national average.
We've focused on England and Wales as house price data is not freely available to the same level of detail in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The map works best in Chrome or Firefox.
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Video: how to spot an up-and-coming area
In this short video, property expert Tracy Kellett, a former estate agent who now owns property search company BDI Homefinders, shares her insider tips on finding property hotspots.
Property investment hotspots: telltale signs
1. Thriving nearby towns
Up-and-coming areas often spring up next to areas that are already popular, because people are priced out of that location and are looking to move as near as possible instead.
As increasing numbers of people move into the surrounding neighbourhoods, demand will grow and house prices will often rise as a result.
2. Regeneration plans
If a local authority is planning to regenerate a town centre, chances are this will boost the local economy and drive up house prices in the future.
Plans are often announced years in advance, and searching the local authority websites can help you spot areas earmarked for regeneration.
3. New transport links
Home buyers might not see certain areas as obvious destinations to move to because they aren’t on a major road or rail network. Anywhere set to get a new train station, network connection, tram link or major road is likely to become a property hotspot.
So although links like the M40, Stansted Airport and, more recently, Crossrail and HS2 might draw critics, they can have the effect of making certain areas popular with buyers where they weren't before.
4. Trendy shops, restaurants, cafes and nightlife
A key sign that an area is up-and-coming is the opening of new restaurants, cafes and shops, particularly if they're more up-market than other businesses in the area - this is often referred to as the gentrification of a neighbourhood.
If you start to notice this happening, get in there quick as property prices will likely increase over the coming months and years as more trendy businesses open and attract wealthier buyers into the area. Local online forums are often first to catch wind of developments like these, although local media might be a more reliable source of information.
5. Skips and scaffolding
Look out for scaffolding and skips on the street, as this is shows that local homeowners are putting time and money into maintaining or renovating their properties.
This demonstrates increased prosperity and improving housing stock - both telltale signs of an up-and-coming area.
6. New developments
Whether or not you’re a fan of new-build properties, big new developments can really help to improve an area, especially in towns and cities. Much of the substantial development of the mid-2000s created great places to live out of once-derelict wasteland and industrial estates.
When new-build homes are built, they can sometimes increase the value of surrounding properties too.
7. Good schools
Most families will want to live in the catchment area of a good school and this demand can drive up the value of properties in that locality.
If a new school is being built or a nearby school has dramatically improved its Ofsted rating, this is likely to attract buyers.
8. New estate agencies
A crop of new estate agents' offices opening in a particular area is a surefire sign that things are hotting up.
Opening a new branch indicates that the estate agents have received (or expect to receive) increased levels of interest from homebuyers, giving the agents a golden opportunity to make money - and, if you follow their lead and invest in such a neighbourhood, you could too.
A word of warning
While all of the above factors can be very positive signs that an area is up-an-coming, there’s never a cast-iron guarantee that an area will improve (or its house values rise). As we've all witnessed, unpredictable events such as recessions can have a massive effect on the property market, but sometimes even if the economy is healthy an area might just never quite catch on.
If you're looking to buy in a property hotspot and make it your home, it's important that you genuinely like the area and feel comfortable there so that even if the market fails to boom as spectacularly as you'd hoped, you won't regret your decision to buy property there.
Find out more: investigating a neighbourhood - things to check before you choose an area to move to
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