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Using Property Tech to Analyse Data and Identify Emerging Locations

Peter Hemple looks at methods, both old and new, to find ‘up and coming’ areas

I first heard the expression ‘up and coming’ to describe an area that is improving, or ‘becoming gentrified’, in the mid-1990s. At that time, I was working as an estate agent in Streatham in south London and the up-and-coming area in question was Clapham, which was shortly followed by Balham. So, it made sense that, as Streatham Hill station was the next stop along the rail line from Balham, it would be the next up and coming area. At least, that is what many of the local estate agents in Streatham would all say to each other in the pub after work, with the obvious goal that if enough people said it, then everyone would eventually start to believe it and we could all sell more properties.

We started referring to the area as ‘Saint Reatham’, especially to new applicants that had just moved to London and were looking to buy or rent. It was very tongue in cheek and no doubt triggered by the popular 1990s TV show ‘Keeping up Appearances’ where the main character, Hyacinth Bucket, insisted that her last name was pronounced ‘Bouquet’. However, when we added ‘it really is an up-and-coming area, a Pizza Express has just opened on the high street’, it occasionally convinced potential buyers that Saint Reatham was indeed the next ‘property hot spot’.

Unfortunately, after living and working in Streatham for more than 10 years, I had eventually had enough of tripping over the constantly emerging bright yellow ‘Serious Incident’ boards that were scattered along the road on my walk home from Streatham Hill train station. I sold up in 2006 and have never gone back.

A recent search for Pizza Express locations in London revealed that the restaurant in Streatham has now closed. However, there is still one in Balham and there are actually two in Clapham. I guess Streatham was not as up and coming as its neighbours after all. But here is the thing...for property investment purposes, it didn’t matter. My properties in Streatham all trebled in value during the 10 years that I stepped around those yellow boards listing the date and time of a mugging, a sexual assault, or a stabbing that had occurred a few days prior.

Property prices continued to soar while my house had three attempted break-ins (two while I was in the property!), while I saw a nurse mugged outside my bedroom window when she returned from a night shift at 6am, while I witnessed a car chase ending with a man being shot by police, which meant I had to go to the Old Baily to testify, and during the countless times I woke up and looked out of my bedroom window only to discover that some builders had dumped a bed or a sofa outside my house yet again because they didn’t want to pay a fee at the local recycling centre. Oh, and I forgot to mention the ‘ladies of the night’...they were literally everywhere in Streatham Hill in the late-90s. 

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