Property Investment: London Falls & Regional Cities Rise

In September 2017, it was reported that London house prices had fallen for the first time in 8 years at a record drop of 0.6%. The capital was subsequently deemed the weakest performing region in the UK for the first time since 2005.  

According to recent news from Acadata, house prices in London continue to plummet, extending a slump that’s seen the average property in the capital lose almost 2 percent its value over the past year.

It seems as if the great divide has materialized in the UK property market, separating London from other thriving cities. According to Acadata, while values continue to fall in London, they are growing in other regions apart from the southeast. Property-website operator Rightmove has released fresh data that supports the claim of major regional growth, showing that average prices have climbed to a new record of  305,732 in April, despite a drop in London. The shifting power dynamic in UK’s major cities is becoming apparent, as efforts in expanding housing, jobs, resources and investment are becoming increasingly concentrated in areas outside the capital.

Javad Marandi, a British businessman with investments in commercial and residential real estate points out what is increasingly becoming obvious: “The best regions to invest in lie outside the capital – it’s no longer all about London.”

London Is Falling; So, What’s Rising?

Various lists claiming the emergence of “the next London” have penetrated the news, using undersupply and rental yields to gauge where, exactly, business in the UK property market is shifting. What investors know when it comes to such lists, is that repetition should lead them to the right places to invest their money.

Matt Stevens, Director of The Mortgage Genie, has recently shared that the buy-to-let hotspots set to offer the most competitive returns in 2018 are Manchester, Liverpool and Gateshead. Similar results were recorded in a more recent report released by JLL, which has singled out Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds as the “ones to watch” over the next five years, as it expects them to outperform other cities in the UK. The two constants found in both reports should signal to investors the immense potential in the northern UK region.

Manchester and Liverpool show strong price growth towards the end of 2017, which has continued into 2018. Image credit: https://www.thesun.co.uk/uncategorized/5222878/whats-next-for-house-prices-and-what-will-happen-to-the-property-market-in-2018/
Manchester and Liverpool show strong price growth towards the end of 2017, which has continued into 2018. Image credit: https://www.thesun.co.uk/uncategorized/5222878/whats-next-for-house-prices-and-what-will-happen-to-the-property-market-in-2018/

Manchester and Liverpool are serious players in the property market for their relevance as core cities for science and technological growth — this is partly credited towards the government’s push of the Northern Powerhouse.

Supporting Manchester’s title as ‘the Silicon Valley of Britain’ is a new report by Tech Nation, which has revealed that tech companies in the UK’s northern region have attracted investment at a faster rate than anywhere else in Europe over the past five years. Manchester particularly, was the key performer within the region, with tech investment growing at a whopping 668% over the 2012-17 period. This growth can be seen in the number of private equity firms in Manchester, which is 31 as of now, with a further three rumoured to be opening this year compared to the six to eight firms in the city over the previous two decades or so.

Liverpool also holds a prominent position in the upcoming digital age, with the establishment of the Knowledge Quarter, placing it on the cusp of becoming a world-class destination for science, innovation, education, technology and the creative and performing arts.

Recent news highlights an ecologist and astrophysicist from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) who, together, have made a significant breakthrough in the animal conservation scene. Dr. Claire Burke, the astrophysicist behind the new species-saving instrument, explains that the software used to identify galaxies is now being used to resolve problems involved with the tracking of endangered species!

With the northwest region boasting expansion in relevant industries, investors will find that their best bets lie in cities like Manchester and Liverpool.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the UK remains a good and safe place to invest your money due to a weakened pound and a structural housing undersupply. The best opportunities undoubtedly lie in major regional cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.

That said, it is important to note that the market in London, subject to a variety of conditions, will eventually bounce back, just as the housing market in the Midlands* bounced back from a low in 2015 to become one of Britain’s fast-growing housing markets today. On a positive note, it is during these apparent slumps that shrewd investors should invest in order to receive satisfying returns when the market bounces back.

Liverpool, Manchester Named UK’s Top Buy-to-Let Market Again

 Image by Totally Money indicates rental yields across the maritime city of Liverpool.
Image by Totally Money indicates rental yields across the maritime city of Liverpool.

Liverpool, home to the UK’s first-of-its-kind Knowledge Quarter, has been named UK’s top buy-to-let city for yet again. The city has been a top pick for the rental market since 2013 .

The research by independent credit broker TotallyMoney, which surveyed 580,0000 properties across England, Scotland and Wales, found that universities outside London provided landlords with the highest yields, with Liverpool claiming top spot at up to 12% average rental yields.

The L6 and L7 postcodes in Liverpool dominated due to its cheaper prices, but also, most importantly, because of their  location which is close to the city’s three main universities. The universities provide a catchment of some 70,000 students, which drive demand for housing.

Landlords have even more to rejoice about as the upcoming construction of the high-speed rail , and (HS2) will continue to boost the economy in Liverpool, thus  driving demand for housing creating opportunities for the buy-to-let investors.

The best buy-to-let cities in Britain

Figure shows two postcodes in Liverpool dominated the top buy-to-let in Britain.
Figures show Liverpool dominating the top ranks of the buy-to-let market in Britain. Info source: Totally Money

Liverpool & Manchester to benefit from Northern Powerhouse development,job vacancy and infrastructural growth

Liverpool is a core city of the UK's Northern Powerhouse. Image from Urbanrealm
Liverpool is a core city of the UK’s Northern Powerhouse. Image from Urbanrealm

Meanwhile, the housing market in Manchester has also been doing well, recording strong average rental yields of up to 10.08%.

Recently, Manchester was also named as the best place to be a landlord in the UK, recording a splendid rental price growth of 5.76%!

Like Liverpool, Manchester is also a part of the Northern Powerhouse, an initiative by the  UK government to create economic balance between the North and South.

Both Liverpool and Manchester will see great development in the future in terms of job opportunities, training, and skills development — a situation that smart property investors  are taking advantage of.

In Liverpool, part of the city’s development involves the massive Liverpool Waters scheme, which will reconstruct brownfield sites into full-fledged neighbourhoods and transform the city’s northern docks into a world-class mixed-use waterfront development.

In Manchester, the population continues growing, thanks in large part to the existence of four central universities which have enforced the student population in the city. With a student catchment of some 100,000, Manchester offers good opportunities for landlords.

London’s lacklustre performance

In the past, London was the main focus of investors looking to capitalise on its massive economic and infrastructure growth as the city centre of UK. Today, Liverpool and Manchester have eclipsed the capital thanks to its strong and varied development growth.

Property yields have not done well in London either due to over inflated property prices. Housing prices have flatlined, with experts predicting that Brexit will cause a downfall in the market based on current trends. What’s clear is that rental yields in Liverpool is seven times higher than London, which unfortunately now sports a high number of postcodes that are listed within some of the UK’s worst areas for buy-to-let yields.

Major Companies Investing in Liverpool; You Should Too

Image from: https://aspenwoolf.co.uk/ropewalks-regeneration-liverpool/
Follow the money: there’s bound to be a good thing going if investors are ploughing their money into this maritime city.

Proper investments are known to give birth to a thriving economy, and in Liverpool, this scenario prevails. Some of the most active companies have invested in the improvement of this maritime city, with the most notable five doing so as partners of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

LEPs are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and the private sector set up in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to lead economic growth, job creation and maximise return of investment within the local area.

The major LEP companies referred to are Danish energy firm DONG Energy, transport giants Alstom Transport and Stagecoach, Liverpool-based museum British Music Experience and training provider South West Regional Assessment Centre.

DONG Energy, the global leader in offshore wind, has two completed projects in the Liverpool City Region. Together, the wind farms can generate enough low carbon energy to power over 310,000 homes! Matthew Wright, Managing Director for DONG Energy UK, has expressed his ambition to continue fueling growth for the low carbon sector in the city, thus painting a greener future for Liverpool.

Alstom Transport UK, on the other hand, opened their new state-of-the-art industrial facility at Widnes which provides the largest and most sophisticated train modernisation facility in the UK, alongside the Alstom Academy for Rail which will provide training for rail staff from across the North West and beyond. Stagecoach is also contributing to the expansion of Liverpool’s public transport network. With both companies at work, accessibility throughout the city is set to greatly improve.

South West Regional Assessment Centre will be offering training & development courses for individuals wanting to improve their work opportunities whilst the stunning British Music Experience opened its doors in Cunard Building, Liverpool in March 2017.

With the Liverpool City Region LEP Strategy, Liverpool is well and truly open for business. This strategy will see the possible creation of more than 100,000 new jobs, an increase of more than 50,000 people and growth of more than 20,000 businesses. It will also see a boost in Liverpool’s economy of some 50 billion pounds!

More Projects Add to the Pull of Liverpool

The £2bn vision to establish Liverpool’s 450-acre Knowledge Quarter as one of the world’s leading innovation districts has appeared in the news quite a bit. Readers are aware of the great number of students and businesses the city will attract while keeping to its roots which are planted firmly in the enhancement of the health and education sectors.

Worth mentioning is the interesting transformation within the Baltic Triangle. The derelict warehouses that trail the triangle are being converted into interesting recreational destinations and offices. Many digital agencies have also chosen to locate to Liverpool because of the creative aura running throughout the quaint zone. This redevelopment has thus produced a unique area for property investment.

Improvements are occurring all over Liverpool in various fields, attracting volumes of people from all over the world in need of homes. In this case, investors would find it beneficial to look into property investments in Liverpool, as timing could not be any better.

Image source: Image from: https://aspenwoolf.co.uk/ropewalks-regeneration-liverpool/

Liverpool Student Property: A Foreign Investor Magnet

When investing in UK commercial student property, one should consider investing in Liverpool. Liverpool is a top student city in the UK with a student catchment of more than 50,000 .

UK commercial student property is a bit like treasure; it’s a valuable asset and savvy investors are constantly searching for the X on the map. While the increasing number of local and foreign PBSA investors should be indication enough of the great opportunities in this sector, one would ultimately solidify this belief once exposed to the promising data behind this jewel of a sector.

Foreign Investors Flock Towards Commercial Student Property 

Many local investors have already hopped onto the student property bandwagon, and while that may be expected, the rising number of foreign investors is a little less so. What makes commercial student property investment so popular among both local and foreign investors alike, is because it is a hands-off property investment: commercial student properties are fully-managed by professional property managers,  allowing investors to commit to the venture in the student sector from the comfort of their home countries!

With the UK’s nonpareil education system ensuring continuous demand for PBSA that consistently outweighs supply, overseas investors in search of investments other than residential property will most likely find themselves in the student property sector.

Liverpool Is The Best Student City

While many urban cities in the UK boast reputable universities — it is the UK after all, and lists such as The Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings prove British educational institutions continue to dominate the educational sector — none of them stand out quite like Liverpool.

A combination of pull factors place Liverpool at the forefront of UK student property investment; alongside affordable prices and excellent rental yields, a unique lifestyle experience continues to attract both local and international students.

Students are initially attracted to the high level of distinction associated with the top three universities in the city: University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Liverpool Hope University. The redbrick University of Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of education institutions in the world whilst Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University also rank within the top 75 according to league tables by The Complete University Guide.

The other factors that ultimately mark Liverpool as the best student city is its eccentric culture. Students are enticed by the abandoned warehouse nightlife of the Baltic Triangle, the galleries and museums of the Albert Dock and the unconventional cafés on RopeWalks’ famous Bold Street.

A mesmerising cafe in the Baltic Triangle offers residents an interesting experience Image from: https://confidentials.com/liverpool/bad-santa-liverpool-gets-an-adults-only-grotto
A mesmerising cafe in the Baltic Triangle offers residents an interesting experience

A City for Investors

Liverpool boasts a large student population of over 70,000, which guarantees an abundance of tenants searching for the right accommodation. With most of the top student property developments marking the best student areas near Liverpool’s city centre attractions and university campuses, investors can enjoy choosing from an already promising selection without going through all the trouble.

Adding to Liverpool’s prestige is the Knowledge Quarter, a £2bn regeneration scheme that will lead the city to becoming one of the world’s leading innovation districts, further reinforcing its relevance in this modern digital era!

What every international investor is particularly attracted to is the excellent rental yields — up to 8% nett returns is commonplace in Liverpool’s student property sector! Considering low initial average property costs that provide opportunity for maximum capital appreciation over time, investors would be hard-pressed to find a greater deal.

Interesting in investing in Liverpool PBSA?

There are many commercial student accommodation developments in the pipeline. Natex, one of Liverpool’s latest to date, offers investors 9% returns, assured for five years. The 566-unit student accommodation scheme is approximately a 5-minute walk from University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University — it boasts all the facilities a student would ever need (and more!).

Image Sources:

  • Image from: https://confidentials.com/liverpool/bad-santa-liverpool-gets-an-adults-only-grotto

Picking the Right Student Property Investment

Previously, we discussed how the UK’s world-class educational institutions have attracted students from all over the world, driving demand for commercial student property. Today, we talk about where to invest in commercial student property.

An artist impression of the interior of London Spring Place, a student property in the UK.
Rooms in purpose-built student property in the UK are fully-furnished and well-equipped with attached bathrooms, some come with kitchenettes,  and communal study and recreation areas. Above: an artist impression of the interior of London Spring Place, a student property in the UK.

Britain’s is known for its world-class education. And with the rise in student numbers comes the demand for proper student housing. Knight Frank and Savills reports that student property now stands as the fastest-growing property sector in the UK, with demand consistently exceeding supply – unsurprising, considering that the student population is expected to exceed its current 2.3 million (and counting) by 20% – 30%  in the next 5 years according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Cities like Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have been touted as some of the best places to invest in UK student property. Here’s why: these cities are home to universities that are members of the prestigious Russell Group. Russell Group universities rank highly  in the UK university league tables, attracting higher enrolment which, in return, creates steady demand for accommodation. Simply put, the more renowned the university, the stronger the rental market.

Let’s take Cambridge and Newcastle as examples. The universities in both cities are constantly expanding and evolving, and this has a direct impact on the investors’ profits.  Cambridge city’s population is expected to increase more than 20% in the next decade, which will lead to an increasing student rental sector . Newcastle, on the other hand, being one of the largest universities in the UK, houses more than 31,000 students from 130 different countries.

Of developers and builders, there are many, but when it comes to investing in property, the credibility  and experience of a developer is crucial..

Student accommodation located closest to universities, the city centre and which are within reach of amenities are likeliest to have the highest demand. Research has also shown that students have become more discerning and want to be treated like true customers, preferring accommodation with first class facilities like quality living space, high-speed bandwidth and communal sections that encourage optimum interaction.

Investors should consider investing in student property brands that are credible and have a track record. There are many players in the market, but not many with expertise and experience. 

The Most Resilient Investment Asset Class in the UK

Commercial property is popular among investors. One of the best commercial property investment assets in the UK is student property. Why? Read on and find out.

Image from: https://csiprop.com/liverpool-hotspot-for-economic-population-growth/
The media is currently rife with news regarding student property, better known as purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), in the UK. The immense potential it holds for property investors is clear, especially when one zooms in to the facts and figures buttressing the continuous success of the student property sector:

Beating Brexit: Investment & Return Rates in Student Property Sector Continue to Climb

Perhaps the best measure of the resilience of the student property sector in the UK is how well it has fared financially despite the economic recession that followed the announcement of Brexit. Based on the latest report from Savills, student accommodation investment currently stands at £5.3bn, which surpasses the £4.5bn spent in 2016. Worth mentioning is the fact that barely eight years ago, the total investment in the student property sector was a mere £500m!

According to CBRE’s student accommodation index, between 2012 and 2016, annualised returns for the sector added up to an impressive 11.8%. This percentage holds even greater value when compared to the smaller yet still reputable figures that rose from the residential sector and commercial property sector as a whole, which were 7.8% and 7.4% respectively.

High Demand for Commercial Student Property 

In a recent report, David Feeney, Head of Student Analytics at Cushman & Wakefield said: “More students than ever are demanding a bed in purpose-built accommodation. This, coupled with pressure on local housing markets, means that demand for purpose-built accommodation should remain strong. However, micro-market knowledge is essential to investment success.”

Worth taking note of is Feeney’s emphasis on the gravity of thorough research before investing; location, demand and regeneration schemes are among the key factors in finding the ideal investment. Recently, Matt Stevens, Director of The Mortgage Genie, shared the top buy-to-let hotspots that are set to offer the most competitive returns in 2018. Manchester, Liverpool and Gateshead take the top 3 spots. Manchester and Liverpool, specifically, are home to a number of reputable educational institutions where PBSA is a major concern. These areas are where investors can expect to fetch high yields with long rental assurance in the student property sector.

Natex, one of the latest and most iconic PBSA developments to date, located in Liverpool.
Natex, one of the latest PBSA developments to date, in Liverpool.

International and EU applicants to UK Universities Still Rise

International applicants to UK universities continue to increase, in fact, the number of international applicants rose by 11.1% to 58,450, which is the highest number on record! Latest UCAS figures show that the number of applications by EU and international students for university places in the UK has increased to over 100,000 for the first time – this is a rise of almost 8% compared to the previous year!

Conclusion

The student property market in the UK, underpinned by both the superior quality of UK education and a structural undersupply in student housing, continues to attract investors from all over the globe.

Interested in investing where the yields are good and the risks are low? Liverpool is a great place for student property investment. First, find a good consultancy to guide you through the process and give you sound advice.