Hot Spot Streatham, South London
Streatham is not a northern suburb of Brighton. It's actually no further south than Wimbledon, and if the oft-promised tube line had ever actually materialised, it would seem much less remote to Londoners. In any event the place is fairly self-sufficient.

Streatham has three stations, for trains to Victoria and London Bridge, and an enormous number of buses, but local traffic is still horrendous.

Many houses in Streatham are huge, and a large number have been converted. The result is an abundance of flats and houses in all sizes, shapes and prices, including new homes. "Streatham also has unusual properties such as converted churches," says Townends manager Gayle Horne.

If a pleasant, affordable area is down the road from, and considerably cheaper than, Clapham, Wandsworth, Balham and Brixton, growing families from such pricier locales will inevitably get on their bikes and move.

"People from Clapham sell their two-bedroom flats and buy a family house in Streatham with the proceeds," says Ms Horne.

Or they move from a house to a property similar in size but appreciably cheaper and use the profit, says Nick Harrington, manager at the local Winkworths, to put their children into private school. State schools are also an option as "Streatham schools get rave reviews".

Buyers in the pounds 250,000 to pounds 500,000 category gravitate towards the Telford Park Estate, the area of Streatham closest to Clapham Park. "This area has many three-storey semi-detached Victorian houses," says Mr Harrington. To its south, "any of the roads leading from Tooting Bec Common have well- presented, cheaper, Victorian and Edwardian houses with four, five or six bedrooms."

Sunnyhill and Wellfield Roads form Streatham Village, "full of pretty two- and three-bedroom cottages built for railway workers and artisans between 1820 and 1900," says Mr Harrington. Some now have preservation orders on them.

Further south, Streatham Common has properties that include three-bedroom Edwardian, 1930s modern, and very grand five- and six-bedroom Victorian and Edwardian. "These roads can't be used as a rat run, so they are always quiet," Mr Harrington explains.

To the East is Streatham Vale, which has limited shopping, incredibly busy roads, tired houses and prices which reflect all of the above.

In Ms Horne's opinion, the best value is neither in the cheapest (Streatham Vale) nor the priciest (Telford Park Estate) areas: "Prices have already peaked in the area near Balham and Brixton Hill. Streatham Common has nice houses and hasn't yet peaked." Large ex-council houses are also available on the roads east of Streatham Hill.

Robert Liebman

The Low-Down

Prices: Prices decline as you move south, from pounds 600,000-plus in Streatham Hill/Telford Park Estate, to half that in Streatham Common. Cottages in Streatham Village sell for pounds 105,000-pounds 145,000, lower in Streatham Vale. Flats cost about pounds 35,000-pounds 40,000 for a studio, pounds 55,000-pounds 75,000 for a one-bedroom, and pounds 85-pounds 135,000 for a two-bedroom.

Transport: Three rail stations, each on different lines. Streatham Common, the most southerly, serves Victoria, Clapham Common and London Bridge stations. Streatham station terminates at London Bridge, and Streatham Hill serves Victoria and, via Thameslink, Blackfriars and King's Cross. A brisk 30-minute walk to the west brings you to the tube in the form of Tooting Bec station, on the Northern Line. There is quick access to Gatwick Airport and the M25.

New build: Try Homes' 38-unit ParkGate has one- and two-bedroom flats and three-, four- and five-bedroom houses (starting at pounds 99,950 and pounds 195,000 respectively) on Garrads Road, SW16, opposite Tooting Bec Common. St James's St James Mews will consist of seven three-storey townhouses (pounds 185,000) on Potter's Lane, SW16.

Gliding and riding: Between them, the 36-acre Streatham Common and the much larger Tooting Bec Common (150 acres) offer London's largest outdoor pool, horse-riding, tennis courts, a bowling green, and The Rookery.

Wining and dining: Streatham High Road has several cinemas and an ice rink; a Holmes Place leisure centre will open shortly, and decent wine bars and restaurants can't be far behind. "It's buzzy place for a London suburb," says Ms Horne.

Council tax: Band A pounds 431, Band H is pounds 1,294.

Agents: FPD Savills (Park Gate) 0181-769 3939; Townends 0181-769 9911; Winkworth 0181-769 6699