Property market & mortgages


At the moment, Britain’s housing market is generally slow, with prices dipping in London by just over 2% in the last year. However, there are still cities where homes are a shrewd buy, and prices are rising.

Some of the biggest annual house price increases have been in the North and Midlands. According to the Office for National Statistics, prices in Scotland rose 4.1%, Yorkshire saw 3.7% growth and the East Midlands, an impressive 6.5%. Much of this has been helped by proposed infrastructure improvements such as the £56 billion HS2 (High Speed 2) train line which is helping to raise Birmingham house prices, and may eventually do the same for Leeds when it arrives in 2032.


If this seems too long to wait, then don’t worry. There’s much more to recommend Leeds, which was recently featured on The Sunday Times ‘Coolest Places To Live in the UK 2018’ list. The city’s universities mean there’s a large student population (and robust rental demand), a vibrant economy and a bustling centre. Large family homes with grounds in affluent Horsforth range between £700,000 to £900,000.
Buy-to-let investors should head east of the city centre to York Road, says estate agent Jessica Draganescu, head of business development at Yopa. ‘It’s one of the last areas for redevelopment to hit,’ she says. A two-bed apartment costing £140,000 lets for roughly £750 per calendar month (pcm).
The further north you go, the more enticing house prices become. Glasgow, recently listed on The Sunday Times ‘Best Places to Live in the UK 2018’ list, is also popular with landlords. Lisa Pitchers, manager with Rettie & Co estate agency, recommends Partick and Thornwood in the West End, and Bridgeton in the east. Two-bedroom modern flats start from roughly £95,000 and let for about £625 pcm.


Nor should Liverpool be overlooked. The UK’s seventh largest city has one of the strongest buy-to-let markets in the country, as reported by The Sunday Times earlier this year. One popular area is the Baltic Triangle, a funky city centre area which was once full of disused warehouses but has since been redeveloped. In between the smart bars and caf├ęs, are new businesses and chic apartments. Local agents say that about 60% of buyers are investors: one-bedroom flats start from about £120,000 and let from roughly £650 pcm.

For a home which will hold its value, opt for an elegant townhouse in the smart streets of the Kensington-like ‘Georgian quarter’ near the city centre, or a roomy detached home in leafy Allerton Road in south Liverpool. Both districts have good schools and spacious family homes with four or more bedrooms, which start from roughly £550,000.

It’s a similar story in Norwich. The city’s ‘golden triangle’, which extends south from the centre, is the city’s Notting Hill. The string of agreeable suburbs are close to major employers and good schools, so consequently ‘there’s always demand’, says Mike Rix of Savills, Norwich. Detached family homes range from about £1 million to £1.5 million.


A family home is also one of the best investments you can make in trendy Brighton. Due to high rental demand, many large houses have been converted into flats, creating a shortage of big homes. Sally Fraser, of Stacks Property Search and Acquisition, recommends the splendid Regency and Victorian villas located in the New Church Road area of neighbouring Hove (now part of Brighton city). A home needing significant work can be picked up for around £1 million ‘with the opportunity to create a chic town or seaside home that will hold its value,’ says Fraser. Once refurbished, these properties command between £1.5 and £2 million.


Regenerating areas are also great places to buy. Whitechapel, a once-overlooked area of the East End in London, is set to benefit from a £300 million investment which includes new public squares and spaces, and an upmarket shopping area – as well as new-build apartments (from about £500,000). Plus there’s the imminent arrival of the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail). Such huge infrastructure projects should not be underestimated, says Jeremy McGivern of Mercury Homesearch, a property-buying consultancy.

‘People think that the impact of Crossrail on house prices has been fully factored in, but it hasn’t. Once open, the line will attract more homebuyers, better shops and increased demand. It’ll become a virtuous circle,’ he says.

McGivern recommends buying near stations on the line (for example, Acton and Farringdon), as well as the prime centre, which will always appeal to the growing global super-rich. Nor is London’s current subdued market something to worry about. It’s ‘part of the city’s regular property cycle and it will bounce back,’ he says.



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This article first appeared in the Weatherbys Private Bank magazine, Issue 4.

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