Property news roundup: Fast broadband now the 'fourth utility'

Plus, the Crossrail effect, and the cost of being locked out

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The Independent Online

Energy efficiency and home security head the wish list of ‘must-have' property features, says a new report which also shows that more than half of homehunters say that a good broadband connection is now an ‘essential'.

While just nine per cent of those surveyed by Home Insurance admitted that period features were highly important when they were looking to buy a house, over 70 per cent said efficient central heating system, double glazing and secure doors and windows were more important in their search.

Access to the internet was also ranked highly, with more people considering a good broadband connection (54 per cent) more important than local shops and amenities (52 per cent) or friendly neighbours (48 per cent).

Those in Wales were particularly concerned about access to a good broadband connection, with 65 per cent saying it was a necessity, while people in Yorkshire and The Humber were the most concerned about friendly neighbours. A strong mobile phone signal was rated more highly by Londoners than people living elsewhere in the UK.

Only a fifth of those surveyed said access to good local schools was an essential factor in buying a new home.

Ben Wilson, from Home Insurance, said: "The important role technology plays in our everyday lives shone through. Good internet access is now seen by many as the ‘fourth utility' alongside mains gas, electricity and water."

Locked out

One in five people has found themselves locked out of their own home, according to AA Home Membership. The average cost of having locks replaced is £61.74 wile one in seven surveyed spent more than £100 replacing the locks on their front door.

Londoners are most likely to have been locked out of their home (35 per cent) compared to those from Yorkshire and Humberside who are the most careful (13 per cent).

The report also shows that one in eleven hides a spare key to their home somewhere on their property. Over 65s are four times more likely to do this than those aged under 35.

The Crossrail effect

Property transactions within 500 metres of Crossrail stations grew by 23 per cent in 2013 and within a mile by 21 per cent, well above the London average of 13 per cent, according to new figures from Hamptons International.

Johnny Morris, Head of Research at Hamptons said: "Nearly one in 10 home sales in 2013 were within a mile of a Crossrail Station. However while many markets are seeing a hive of Crossrail activity, the muted price growth around some stations indicates there are still many opportunities for savvy investors.  Stations to the East and West of Central London, in line for radical improvement to commuting times, are best positioned to benefit from the Crossrail effect.

"In West London, the higher value markets of Acton and Ealing have already seen a large impact from Crossrail but the effects of the project are steadily spreading across the line.  For example, Maidenhead, the last stop on the route, is starting to see more purchaser activity buoyed by Crossrail.”