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How to spot an up and coming area

With London becoming prohibitively expensive, many other areas are benefiting from an influx of new buyers — which makes them excellent investment opportunities. But how can you spot an up-and-coming location?

How to know where to look

Of course you can check property and rental prices in an area, but there are actually a lot of tricks to help you spot a location on the rise before the rise really begins. If you're interested in investing but don't have a lot of funds, looking for an area about to bloom can be an exciting opportunity. 

And you don’t have to be an investor or a landlord to make the most of an up and coming area. Whether you’re looking to buy your first home or you’re looking to expand, getting in on the ground floor can be a great option. You can find a savvy deal on a home that you might not otherwise be able to afford — and you’ll find that new amenities show up on your doorstep as the area expands. It’s a great way to buy a bigger property and, ultimately, make a lot more on your home if you ever choose to sell it. 

Follow the transport links, the young people, the amenities, and the estate agents — that's where things are usually happening."

Ready to find your new dream location before everyone else does? Here's what to keep in mind.

Trace the transport links

Transport links are often key in finding up-and-coming areas. If you live in a city like London, look at the major transport links — and then trace them a little further out. A few stops further out of the centre is where things are likely to get more expensive over the next few years (hello, Walthamstow and Morden). 

The same is true outside of cities — follow the train lines. Towns or smaller cities that are near major hubs like Brighton, Bristol or Manchester are likely to increase in value, as people move into less expensive areas but are still looking for convenience. That's why areas like Lewes and Hastings, with close transport links to both Brighton and London, have been on the up. You can also look for where transport links don't exist yet, but where there are already plans to expand.

Follow the young people

It may be hard to stomach, but young people do know where it's at. Follow the 20s and 30s crowd to get an idea of where the next hot spot will come — it was young professionals that made Brixton in southwest London exponentially increase in value, then they transformed Bristol's property market, and now there are signs that quite a few of them are Sheffield-bound.

Young people tend to be short on cash but also want a high quality of living, so they have a way of gravitating toward an area that's on the cusp — and then the area changes to meet their needs.

Look for signs of change

People make jokes about hipster coffee shops taking over the world — but there's some truth in that. And those coffee shops, delis, and gastropubs are often a sign that prices are starting to increase. If you see a slightly lacklustre area with one or two nicer shops that look a little out of place, you can bet that in a few years that area will be full of them — and a lot more expensive.

But, interestingly, a heavy presence of chain stores — like Costa, H&M, Starbucks — should actually be a red flag. Many experts think that this means an area has already reached its growth potential, so keep your eye out for the odd independent shop instead.

Focus on amenities

Location is everything, especially when it comes to amenities. In addition to transport links, pay attention to how well-serviced an area is — schools, supermarkets, and shops can tell you a lot about how desirable an area will be in the future. It's worth taking a look around or spending an afternoon there, if you have the time.

In terms of neighbourhoods, you want to pick an area that has a lot of amenities within walking distances. But if you take a step back and look at cities and towns more broadly, you'll still want to keep amenities in mind — how convenient, safe, and well-stocked is it?

Pay attention to estate agents

Estate agents will usually cover a certain area — an area that they deem to be profitable. Looking at the outskirts of those areas can give you a lot of insight into what's to come. Often the property on the outer limits will be cheaper but, for some reason, the estate agent still wants to keep it in their patch — probably because they sense that growth is coming. By the same token, if there are a lot of estate agents servicing a certain area and it's not in the middle of a big city, then they're probably there because there's money to be made — a sign the area is experiencing growth.

Choosing an up-and-coming area is always a bit of a risk, but there are plenty of clues to help guide you toward what might be a great option. Follow the transport links, the young people, the amenities, and the estate agents — that's where things are usually happening.