What is the housing market like in Essex?

What is the housing market like in Essex?

October 2023

While the Essex housing market is not immune to fluctuating interest rates, rising house prices and the effects of the housing crisis faced by the UK, the market here is consistently healthy, and there remains a steady demand for property throughout the region.

The Essex housing market is affordable in relation to the London and South East averages and can meet the needs of a wide range of buyers. The county has a diverse geography and many different styles of property, with something to suit every budget and lifestyle.

In this article, I’ll take a look at Essex house prices compared to the rest of the country, as well as the different types of property available and the geography of the region.

For advice on getting a mortgage on a new home in Essex, get in touch with Goldmanread. As an independent mortgage broker in Essex, we can provide impartial advice and help you search the market for a competitive deal.

Is Essex a good place to live?

Essex’s proximity to London provides easy access in as little as 20 minutes by train. But, in contrast to the busy city, Essex boasts a picturesque coastline, historic towns, quaint villages and beautiful countryside.

With a lower cost of living compared to London, Essex provides a more affordable option for housing while still offering excellent schools, cultural attractions, and a thriving local economy.

What’s more, the communities here are welcoming and home to some of the most friendly and warmest people in the South.

What is property demand like in Essex?

Demand has shot up in Essex in the last few years, in part because of the pandemic. Essex has always been a desirable location for city workers looking for a quieter way of life, more space and access to the countryside.

Understandably, this became a particular motivation for buyers following the first lockdown, and it’s reported that in excess of 20% of properties sold in Essex during this period were buyers from London (source: Experian).

Essex house prices compared to the UK average

According to the Land Registry, as of August 2023, average house prices were as follows:

  • UK average price – £291,044
  • England average price – £309.616
  • South East average price – £393,417
  • London average price – £482,605
  • Essex average price – £ 371,735

So, while Essex house prices trend above the average price for the UK, it’s still very affordable by London and South East standards.

The average selling price of Essex properties has fallen by £3,144 from the previous year, influenced by rising interest rates.

It’s important to note that Essex house prices are incredibly diverse, from very affordable flats to multi-million-pound mansions. So don’t be put off by the average price, as you are very likely to find something within your budget.

Essex remains affordable

While the average property price is above the national average, there is a large fluctuation in house prices from the commuter belt of South Essex to more affluent areas like Epping Forest.

It’s important to remember that Essex is not just one market but a whole series of local and regional markets within the county. It is possible to find houses and flats closer to the average UK price in Essex.

For example, the average price of a flat/maisonette in Essex as a whole in August 2023 was £209,759, but in the Tendring district of Essex, it was just £143,016.

In this sense, knowing the average price is of little use as it depends on what type of property you are looking for and where.

Property types in Essex

One of the attractions of Essex is the sheer diversity of property on offer. Property styles in this buoyant market have been shaped by several factors.

Firstly, the county’s rich heritage means that it has many period homes, particularly in areas like Saffron Walden, famous for its well-preserved medieval buildings, and Colchester, Britain’s oldest recorded town.

Secondly, Essex’s property diversity is a result of its unique role as an overspill area for London during the post-war period when “new towns” emerged to accommodate London’s expanding population. Places like Basildon and Harlow were established, offering a wide range of housing options, from modern high-rise flats to suburban family homes.

Essex’s geographical diversity also plays a part, with coastal towns like Southend-on-Sea and Leigh-on-Sea offering stunning seafront residences, while the rural regions of Epping Forest and Uttlesford provide charming cottages and spacious estates.

Furthermore, the demand for housing in Essex has surged since the COVID-19 pandemic, with remote work trends encouraging the development of new housing projects and renovations. This growing demand is evident in towns like Chelmsford, which has seen a boom in new developments, and the transformation of historic buildings into modern apartments, attracting a wide range of homebuyers and investors.

Due to its proximity to London, diverse housing options, relative affordability, excellent schools, amenities, and ample job prospects, Essex is also a sought-after location in the UK rental market.

Types of properties to buy in Essex:

  • New homes
  • Period properties
  • Flats, maisonettes and apartments
  • Large detached properties
  • Semi-detached properties,
  • Terraced properties
  • Retirement communities
  • Bungalows
  • Cottages
  • Country estates

In short, Essex properties are diverse, and there is something to suit most buyer’s needs and budgets.

Where to buy a home in Essex

As to where to settle in Essex, it depends entirely on your needs. You may be looking for a lively city, a sleepy village, an affordable, close-knit community or a trendy seaside town. Essex has it all.

Clearly, budget and house prices drive the decision in large part, so it’s very important to know where you can afford to buy and how pricing varies in that particular market. You can check sale prices achieved in the last year through the Land Registry website and other online tools such as www.nethouseprices.com.

Let’s focus on budget for one moment and look at some of the most expensive and most affordable places to live in Essex, based on August 2023 data.

Most expensive regions to live in Essex (August 2023)

  • Epping (including Epping Forest, Loughton, Chigwell, Ongar) – average house price £528,706
  • Uttlesford (including Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow, Thaxted) – average house price £484,753
  • Brentwood (including Ingastone, Shenfield, Warley) – average house price £470,184

Most affordable regions to live in Essex (August 2023)

  • Tendring (including Clacton-on-Sea, Jaywick, Harwich) – average house price £275,532
  • Thurrock (including Chafford Hundred, Tilbury, Purfleet) – average house price £335,122
  • Castle Point (including Benfleet, Canvey Island, Hadleigh, Thundersley) – average house price £383,198

Once again, these prices are averages only and quoted just to give an idea of each region’s affordability. It’s important to thoroughly research your chosen market by getting advice from your estate agent or mortgage adviser and by using websites such as Land Registry and Rightmove.

Best places to live in Essex for…

First-time buyers

Younger couples may be suited to Essex’s larger towns which offer plenty of job opportunities, restaurants, bars and amenities.

Our recommendations: Basildon, Southend, Chelmsford.

Commuters and young professionals

Essex is very well connected by road and rail, so it is ideal for commuters seeking a more affordable cost of living and a balance between the city and a more suburban lifestyle.

Our recommendations: Brentwood, Shenfield.

Growing families

Those looking for a new home to accommodate a growing family will naturally be focused on things like schools, family-friendly amenities and access to nature.

Our recommendations: Saffron Walden, Burnham on Crouch.

Empty nesters

If the time has come to downsize or free up some equity, then you may want to consider a more relaxed seaside location or somewhere more rural. There are plenty of lovely seaside towns and pretty villages throughout Essex.

Our recommendations: Leigh on Sea, Thaxted.

Retirees

There are many retirement-friendly communities in Essex for those seeking an active retirement by the sea whilst still being close to London and the attractions of the West End.

Our recommendations: Walton on the Naze, Frinton on Sea.

Talk to Goldmanread about buying a home in Essex

When considering buying a property in Essex, it’s important to seek advice from an experienced mortgage professional like Goldmanread.

We have been providing mortgage advice in Essex for many years and have completed many successful property transactions.

We are an independent mortgage broker, which means that we can look at a wide range of lenders to find the best possible deal for your circumstances. We will manage the entire mortgage application on your behalf to help you secure the Essex home of your dreams. Contact us today.

Conclusion

The Essex housing market is buoyant, offering a diverse array of properties that cater to a wide range of budgets and lifestyles. While the average house price in Essex is higher than the national average, it remains considerably more affordable than London and the South East.

Essex boasts a rich mix of property types, from period homes to modern developments. It has a unique geographic diversity that includes seaside towns, historic cities and rural villages, adding to its appeal.

Ultimately, the choice of where to live in Essex depends on lifestyle requirements and budget. Seeking professional advice, like that offered by Goldmanread, can help you navigate this dynamic housing market successfully.

Picture of Clive Read
Clive Read

Clive Read is an appointed representative of PRIMIS Mortgage Network. PRIMIS Mortgage Network is a trading style of Personal Touch Financial Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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