It might seem strange to compare the UK’s property market to a taxi company, however the similarities when it comes to growth and disrupting the market aren’t too far off the mark.
London is a world-renowned iconic city, historically the city to which you aspire or move to make your fortune – similarly the ‘black cab’ is a famous icon of the taxi world, also synonymous with London.
However, just as the black cab began to face new challenges in the market - with the arrival of Uber; a newer, cheaper and importantly, smarter way to hail a ride home - London has also been losing favour amongst businesses and residents.
Instead, areas increasingly finding themselves in favour are the more affordable, up-and-coming, areas outside of the capital.
Like Uber, these regional towns are transforming the market by giving people a better, smarter way to buy and invest in property than London.
Just as Uber didn’t offer a new ‘type’ of taxi - just a better alternative, these regional towns – such as Slough, Bracknell and Reading along the commuter belt, and cities such as Birmingham, aren’t ‘new’ areas either.
Uber simply introduced a more high-tech, cheaper (initially) and better way to get from A to B. These areas, many of which are enjoying a new wave of investment and regeneration, are offering a better, more cost-effective way to buy into an attractive, modern lifestyle without compromising on quality.
How are they doing it? Firstly, they offer lower entry points into the market since demand and subsequently prices haven’t peaked, like London.
Secondly, their regeneration programs mean they have the space and funding to develop state-of-the-art amenities, infrastructure and, importantly, new homes designed with the modern professional or family in mind.
Crucial to their success, each also offers easy and direct access into the capital, or another major city, or has a thriving commercial centre of its own, so minimal compromise needs to be made to the lifestyle they desire.
Like Uber has provided an alternative, high quality vehicle designed to get you home both fast and in comfort but for less, these regions are introducing an affordable but luxury alternative to London living that allows buyers to invest in a better, more affordable property.
Such areas include Bracknell and Slough. Both in the high growth area of Berkshire, both home to thriving global businesses – predominantly from the tech industry which is currently the fastest growing and most invested in the UK.
They also both offer fast, direct access to the capital. Additionally, both areas are undergoing significant regeneration and development programs which are improving amenities and infrastructure.
As a result, both are attracting increasing numbers of businesses and residents due to their affordability and future prospects – in Slough for example, 46% of homes are now let to London leavers.
And developers are responding to this influx, with a raft of new, premium and city-style residential developments, designed with commuters and professionals in mind - such as Iron House, which sits just two minutes from the train station and, essentially, the future Crossrail station.
Like Uber again, both these areas combine technology – albeit in the form of business and investment – with increasing customer demand which is creating significant success.
While these towns are unlikely to ever replace London, likewise Uber will never replace the black cab. However, they are certainly set to continue their fast growth journey and give the capital a good run for its money amongst residents and investors looking for a newer, faster, more affordable way to live in luxury - whilst enjoying access to all the benefits of the capital.
*Andy Foote is director of SevenCapital