How does this affect the Letchworth property market?
It might surprise you that it isn’t always the poshest villages around Letchworth or the swankiest Letchworth streets where properties sell and let the quickest. Quite often, it’s the ones that have the best transport links. I mean, there is a reason why one of the most popular property programmes on television is called Location, Location, Location!
As an agent in Letchworth, I am frequently confronted with queries about the Letchworth property market, and most days I am asked (chiefly from new-comers) “What is the best part of Letchworth and its villages to live in these days?”. Now the answer is different for each person – a lot depends on the demographics of their family, their age, schooling requirements and interests etc. Nonetheless, one of the principal necessities for most tenants and buyers is ease of access to transport links, including public transport – of which the railways are very important.
Official figures recently released state that, in total, 2,558 people jump on a train each and every day from Letchworth Train station. Of those, 1,359 are season ticket holders. That’s a lot of money being spent when a season ticket, standard class, to London is £5,312 a year.
So, if up to £7.22m is being spent on rail season tickets each year from Letchworth, those commuters must have some impressive jobs and incomes to allow them to afford that season ticket in the first place. That means demand for middle to upper market properties remains strong in Letchworth and the surrounding area and so, in turn these are the type of people who are happy to invest in the Letchworth buy to let market – providing homes for the tenants of Letchworth…
The bottom line is that property values in Letchworth would be much lower, by at least 3% to 4%, if it wasn’t for the proximity of the railway station and the people it serves in the town
This isn’t a flash in the pan. Rail is becoming increasingly important as the costs associated with car travel continue to rise and roads are becoming more and more congested. This has resulted in a huge surge in rail travel.
Overall usage of the station at Letchworth has increased over the last 20 years. In 1997, a total of 807,057 people went through the barriers or connected with another train at the station in that 12-month period. However, in 2016, that figure had risen to 1,861,902 people using the station (that’s 5,115 people a day).
The juxtaposition of the property and the train station has an important effect on the value and saleability of a Letchworth property. It is also significant for tenants – so if you are a Letchworth buy to let investor looking for a property – the distance to and from the railway station can be extremely significant.
One of the first things house buyers and tenants do when surfing the web for somewhere to live is find out the proximity of a property to the train station. That is why Rightmove displays the distance to the railway station alongside each and every property on their website.