Areas of Essex: Buy-to-Let Property Investment Hotspots
Property investors who are looking for a location that has competitive property prices and a huge rental market alongside proximity to London could find that the only way is definitely Essex. Here’s our guide to the best areas of Essex to invest in buy-to-let.
Why Invest in Essex?
Essex is part of the southeast and one of the largest counties in England. It covers 3,670 square kilometres and has a population of around 1.85 million. It has a fast-growing population leading to a fast-growing property market.
Essex is a diverse county. Many parts of Essex are within or close to Greater London. Some parts of Essex are very industrial while other parts of Essex are quiet and rural.
Essex has a successful economy providing many well-paid jobs. Essex industries include
electronics, pharmaceuticals, financial services, transport and logistics. There are large ports at Tilbury and London Gateway along the River Thames plus Harwich on the North Sea which handle a large part of the UK’s imports and exports.
Most parts of Essex have good transport links. Essex is served by the M11, A12, A13, A127 and A130 main roads.
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Some areas have fast rail links into central London. The new Elizabeth Line/Crossrail service will have two stations at Brentwood itself and nearby Shenfield.
The new Lower Thames Crossing of the River Thames will link Essex to Kent by 2027 and will make parts of Essex (particularly Thurrock) even better connected and more popular as places to do business, work and live.
Many parts of Essex fall within the London commuter belt. Anywhere that is commutable from London can offer investors strong rental demand and attractive rents.
Property Values in Essex
House prices in southeast England, of which Essex is a part, are the highest in the UK outside London. Right now, the average house price in London is around £500,000 and the average house price in the southeast is around £337,000 according to HM Land Registry figures.
Essex, however, still has many cheap property investment locations compared to elsewhere in the southeast. All the largest towns in Essex (except one, Brentwood) have average house prices that are around or below the southeast average house price.
While there are some expensive towns in Essex others offer property investors scope to find bargains. The most expensive large town in Essex is Brentwood while the cheapest large town to invest in property in Essex, is Colchester. Keep reading our report for details of the cheapest places to invest in Essex.
According to Zoopla, it is possible to find investment property in Essex from as little as £40,000.
Rental Demand in Essex
Essex has a very varied rental market offering every type of buy to let opportunity. There is demand from locals, those who cannot afford to buy and those coming to work in Essex. Some locations in Essex are popular with London commuters.
Some places in Essex have a student accommodation market too. The University of Essex has campuses in Colchester, in Southend on Sea and in Loughton. Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has a campus in Chelmsford.
Essex offers attractive yields for property investors. According to property.xyz investors can find average yields of 4.1% across the county.
Property Investment in Essex
Here’s our guide to property investment in some of the key towns and cities of the county of Essex.
Population: 107,000 approximately
Average House Price: £333,857
Basildon is a one-time new town that was created by merging several Essex villages and today Basildon is one of Essex’s largest towns. Basildon has grown fast in recent decades as new industries have been attracted to locate in the area.
Basildon has great transport links around the region by both road, being close by the M25 London Orbital Motorway, and rail. It is well located for access to the rest of Essex including Southend on Sea, Rayleigh, Chelmsford and Brentwood. London is also commutable from Basildon in around 40 minutes with frequent trains from Basildon, Pitsea and Laindon.
Basildon is a major commercial and light industrial town and the area has one of the largest economies in the south-east which provide many jobs and increase the demand for housing. Employers in the area are mainly in automotive, aerospace, defence, innovation and R&D.
Basildon is a good value property location compared to Brentwood. Property prices here are around 25% cheaper than in nearby Brentwood.
Figures from the Home.co.uk Market Rent Summary show that the average rent in Basildon is currently £1,072 PCM.
Gross average rental yields in Basildon are 4.1% based on the SS14 postcode area according to property.xyz.
Population: 50,000 approximately
Average House Price: £446,878
Brentwood has a strategic location on the edge of Greater London and is close by the M25. Brentwood is within easy reach of both London and other southeast towns for those who travel around the area.
Brentwood’s great transport links will be further improved with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line/Crossrail. Brentwood commuters will be able to reach central London in around 20 minutes with a train every 5 minutes at peak periods, and also catch trains to London Heathrow Airport.
Brentwood is a major commercial town offering well-paid jobs which help support the property market. Employers in the area are mainly in automotive, aerospace, defence, innovation and R&D. Several multinational companies have their headquarters in the area.
Brentwood is a particularly popular residential location, although property prices are higher than the Essex average.
Figures from the Home.co.uk Market Rent Summary show that the average rent in Brentwood is currently £1,311 PCM.
Gross average rental yields in Brentwood are around 2.8% based on the CM13 to CM15 postcode areas according to property.xyz.
Population: 170,000 approximately
Average House Price: £357,074
Chelmsford was granted city status in 2012. City status has helped raise Chelmsford’s profile and make it more attractive as a place to do business, work and live. The new city is a hotspot for economic and housing development and the aim is to establish Chelmsford as a major regional city.
Chelmsford has a fast-growing population. Forecasts suggest it will have a population of around 197,500 people by 2036 boosting the demand for property to buy and to rent.
Key employers in Chelmsford are modern industries including financial services, science and technology.
Chelmsford is also becoming more and more popular with London commuters, and particularly City of London workers, as it is much cheaper to buy and rent in than London itself. The journey time from Chelmsford station to Liverpool Street in the City of London is just 34 minutes.
Figures from the Home.co.uk Market Rent Summary show that the average rent in Chelmsford is currently £1,083 PCM.
Gross average rental yields in Chelmsford are 3.5% based on the Chelmsford CM1 postcode area according to property.xyz.
Here’s more detailed information on the areas of Chelmsford.
Chelmsford property investors could also consider the separate town of Braintree to the north of Chelmsford itself. Braintree benefits from good access to Chelmsford, Colchester to the east, Stansted Airport to the west and the Essex and Suffolk countryside.
Population: 121,000 approximately
Average House Price: £277,658
Colchester is in east Essex, around 60 miles to the northeast of London. The surrounding area is quite rural and there’s also easy access to the Essex coast at Mersea Island, Brightlingsea and Clacton on Sea.
Originally a historic market town and garrison town the population of Colchester has grown fast in recent years as a result of extensive new house building.
The main employers in Colchester are in the public sector and include the army, local authority, hospitals and the University of Essex.
Colchester has good rail connections into London, which makes it popular with London commuters looking for good value property. Zoopla has previously named Colchester as London’s best value commuter location.
Figures from the Home.co.uk Market Rent Summary show that the average rent in Colchester is currently £1,116 PCM.
Gross average rental yields in Colchester are 3.2% based on the CO1 postcode area according to property.xyz.
Population: 84,000 approximately
Average House Price: £279,238
Harlow is in rural Essex but only around 26 miles north of London. Harlow was originally developed as a 1950s new town but has grown fast over the years and has become a busy commercial and residential town.
Harlow has great transport links to London, the rest of the south-east and even to the rest of the world. It is right on the M11 motorway and A414 main road and is close to Stansted Airport.
Harlow’s economy is based around light manufacturing and services. Some well-known companies in Harlow include Raytheon and Arrow. Harlow’s economy should benefit from Harlow Enterprise Zone which has been established to attract businesses in ICT, advanced manufacturing and life sciences.
Harlow could become much larger in the future. The Gilston Park Estate scheme is planned to have six new villages providing around 8,500 new houses.
Harlow is one of the cheaper property locations in the south-east of England, offering good value for investors and buyers
Figures from the Home.co.uk Market Rent Summary show that the average rent in Harlow is currently £1,169 PCM.
Gross average rental yields in Harlow are 4.2% based on the CM17 to CM20 postcode areas according to property.xyz.
North of Harlow property investors could also consider the separate town of Bishop’s Stortford. Bishop’s Stortford is right by the M11 and Stansted Airport.
Population: 160,000 approximately
Average House Price: £297,954
Southend on Sea, or Southend for short, is located on the Essex coast where the River Thames meets the North Sea.
Southend is traditionally a seaside resort and still has a tourist trade in the season. Southend is also a commercial and light industrial town. There are lots of business parks around the town providing local employment.
Southend has good transport links. London can be reached by train in around 45 minutes. This means Southend is attractive to some London commuters looking for good value property. Southend has its own airport, London Southend Airport.
Southend’s claim to fame is that Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world.
Figures from the Home.co.uk Market Rent Summary show that the average rent in Southend is currently £976 PCM.
Gross average rental yields in Southend on Sea are 4.2% based on the SS0 postcode area according to property.xyz.
Other nearby locations for property investors to consider include Rayleigh and South Benfleet.
Here's more detailed information on the areas of Southend-on-Sea.
Population: 170,000 approximately
Average House Price: £283,232
The borough of Thurrock is on the fringes of Greater London along the River Thames. The largest town in Thurrock is Grays.
Thurrock is a fast-growing part of Essex. The local authority projects the population could reach 199,000 by 2031, boosting the demand for property to buy and to rent.
Thurrock has great transport links being right on the M25 motorway and the Dartford Crossing towards Kent and the Channel ports. The new Lower Thames Crossing will make Thurrock much more accessible.
The Thurrock area is a centre for heavy and light industry and logistics, including the very sizable ports at Port of Tilbury and London Gateway. The Thames Freeport has recently been established as one of the UK’s new freeports and the area is an area earmarked for commercial and industrial development as part of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Area. The large Lakeside retail mall is also at East Thurrock.
Thurrock is one of the cheaper parts of Essex and the southeast, with good value properties.
This survey says Grays is the most affordable commuter town in the southeast once factors such as prices, rents and travel costs are taken into account.