The suggestion that living near Waitrose can add £40,000 to the value of your home has been dismissed as “nonsense” by one of the UK’s leading property experts.
If new research by Lloyds Bank is to be believed, your property will be worth £22,000 more on average if you live near a supermarket.
The bank says the so-called ‘Waitrose effect’ can boost the price of a home even further, with properties close to the upmarket store commanding a premium of almost £40,000.
Lloyds’ mortgage director Mike Songer said: “There is definitely a correlation between the price of your home and whether it’s close to a major supermarket or not.”
But property expert Henry Pryor, who has 32 years experience in the industry and was named 'Property Commentator of the Year' in March, isn’t convinced.
“This is the ‘chicken and egg’ story trotted out over high days and holidays and regurgitated by lazy journalists who don’t seem to be bothered to check the facts.”
Mr Pryor said supermarkets locate where they see demand.
“They do not head off into the wilderness and hope to draw in customers.
“In towns and cities the retailers open up where they expect to find their customers having paid consultants a fortune to check first that these customers are there.
“The same applies to stories of ‘gentrification’ we read elsewhere. Contrary to reports that house prices double where Foxtons opens a branch, you will find that the sharpest businesses open up where they see a market. The market always comes first.”
So what does drive up house prices? And if there is a correlation between house prices and proximity to certain supermarkets, why is that?
“What does draw a buyer is the prospect of faster broadband, a new bus route, train station or by-pass,” said Mr Pryor.
“What will drive up house prices is something that draws in greater numbers of people to compete for a finite stock of relatively affordable housing – a new academy for instance or a good employer.
“All these drive demand, which can only be afforded by wealthier people who in turn pull in posher retailers.”
And Mr Pryor has a warning for those believing in the Waitrose effect.
“Next time someone suggests that the proximity of a Waitrose impacts on the price of local housing ask why a lack of a Waitrose in Tunbridge Wells hasn't dented house prices here,” he said.
“Locals have petitioned for years to get one, without success.”