UK House Prices Rises Faster Than Ever Before

Last month, in December 2019, saw the highest rise ever seen for that time of year, according to property experts, Rightmove. With an average asking price of just over £300,000, the average price of property new to the market jumped by 2.3% .  A separate index, belonging to Halifax, showed a 1.7% increase, which combined with November’s 1.2% increase demonstrated the strongest in their records since Feb 18.

Even with many people expecting a Conservative win in the General Election, and a corresponding sense of security around the Brexit crisis, most did would not have predicted such a jump in house prices. In fact a poll of economists predicted a 0.2% decrease in house prices year on year.

The fact that house buyers were more confident than economists goes to show that there are a multitude of factors at play. In this case these include a combination of high levels of employment, strong wage rises, low inflation, low interest rates and a sharp decline in the number of properties for sale.

Some commentators are lumping these gains in with the ‘Boris Bounce’ phenomenon, seen post election when the price of Sterling leapt up. At this point, everyone following the markets knows that they don’t like instability. While in most cases it’s true that what goes up must come down, the expectation for the forthcoming months is a period of stability.

Movers who have been hesitating over the last year are now more likely to go ahead, meaning the Spring could see a healthy period for the housing market. Here at Aspen Woolf we specialise in Investment Property, where the strength of the market and capital growth are a fundamental focal point for our clients. We have seen a strong increase in sales and enquiries.

We do still have the actual process of Brexit to go through, so it would not be prudent to make too many predictions, but the market strength over the last month is certainly a positive.

£150 Million Terminal Building Coming to Leeds Bradford Airport

Northern England’s connectivity could get even better, with Leeds Bradford Airport submitting fresh plans to construct a ‘state-of-the-art’ terminal that aims to improve passenger experience and support economic growth in the region, all while retaining an extremely high level of environmental efficiency.

The plans, due to be submitted in April this year, detail a replacement of an existing scheme and the current building with a three-floor terminal on a new site. If approved, Leeds Bradford Airport will become home to an incredible 34,000 sq mt. terminal, with improved shopping, restaurants, bars, and interiors. With an improved location near to a proposed rail link, the efficiency of passenger transfer can be greatly improved. One of the most significant outcomes of this investment is that Leeds Bradford Airport will be able to meet its net zero carbon emissions target by 2023.

12 years ago Leeds Bradford Airport was sold off by the council in the hope that a private company would be better placed to inject cash into the site and improve services. With the current terminal dating back to 1965, it’s probably about time for a revamp. The owners, AMP Capital, already agreed to a £12 million cash injection, but the airport’s Chief Executive, Hywel Rees was unsatisfied with those plans and went back to the board of AMP to negotiate a new plan and investment figure – £150 million.

Hywel Rees is quoted as saying, “This proposal is not about growing beyond our predicted capacity; it is about meeting the same demand in a more efficient way, with a smaller environmental footprint. We’re confident that a vision will deliver an airport building that is better placed to support out region’s economic growth and become one that Yorkshire can be proud of.”

The airport currently sees 4 million passengers a year, and the expected increase over the next 10 years is 3 million.

The plans are an exciting announcement for both Leeds and Bradford, who will be welcoming greater connectivity and an updated airport. There is an acknowledged need to improve infrastructure around travel to and from the site. Hopefully, this large cash injection is the beginning of an overall rethinking of transportation around the airport. An extra 3 million people per year using Leeds Bradford Airport will certainly place pressure on the roadways.

This initiative to revamp Leeds Bradford Airport falls nicely within the Northern Powerhouse Initiative, aimed at reducing the economic gap between the North and the South. Making this airport a centre of global connectivity is an exciting prospect for the region, and foreshadows future prosperity.

 

Here at Aspen Woolf, we have a range of investment property options across Northern England, with a special focus on the high growth cities of Leeds and Bradford. Property experts Savills recently published forecast that estimate Yorkshire property prices to grow by 21.6% over the next five years. Have a look at our options to find out how you can capitalise on northern growth.

Government Scraps Landlord Licensing in Liverpool

Landlords in the city of Liverpool are rejoicing after the Government stepped in to scrap the renewal of the City Council’s city-wide licensing scheme.

Originally the licensing scheme was introduced in 2015 and determined that all private landlords must obtain a licence for each of their rented properties. Controversially, this decision was brought about by the local council under the judgement that Liverpool was an area of ‘low demand’. If this sounds surprising, that’s because it is.

The Residential Landlord Association’s Policy Manager John Stewert explained that the council’s own statistics could not justify the scheme on the basis of low demand as increasing house prices and decreased void periods across many areas point to exactly the opposite conclusion.

The Government’s final decision to reject the renewal of the legislation was based on a judgement that the application for renewal contained no robust evidence to support the existence of low housing demand in the city.

The point of the scheme was to crack down on rogue landlords and encourage them to take due care over the accommodation they’re offering to tenants. In fact, Liverpool council said it had carried out more than 37,000 compliance actions and prosecuted nearly 250 landlords over the last 5 years. A substantial 70% of inspected properties in the city had been found to be in breach of their licensing conditions.

However, the challenge, raised by the Residential Landlord’s Association, includes among other points the claim that most of these ‘breaches’ are plainly regarding administrative errors, including a failure to be in possession of paperwork. This finding was made by the RLA after they submitted a Freedom of Information Request to Liverpool City Council.

Furthermore, there is suspicion about the extra financial burden the licence places on landlords, especially in conjunction with government plans to remove mortgage interest relief, wear and tear allowance and make changes to the Tenant Fees Act. The RLA claims the new licence will cost an extra, and unjustified, £100.

Perhaps most fundamentally, the RLA suggests that evidence shows licensing is not needed across the city. Many wards do not have high figures for hazards. It’s important to note the suggestion here that the objection is not necessarily to Landlord Licensing in principle, but to the city-wide instantiation of it in this case.

There is, of course, a concern among many that refusing the renewal application is potentially harmful to many renters and especially the most vulnerable people in Liverpool. Many people see this as the redoubled Conservative Government falling at a first hurdle in their so called commitment to cracking down on bad landlords, as well as a London minister interfering in regional issues.

Only time will tell what effect this will have on the standard of rental property and the protection of tenants in Liverpool.

7 Best Reasons to Invest in Preston Property

Last week we published an article going into some depth about why investors are now considering the Lancashire city of Preston. In this article we’re going to give you a quick rundown of the 10 things that best make Preston one of the best places to look out for in 2020.

1. Most improved City 2018

Preston was named as the UK’s most improved city in 2018 by thinktank Demos, which uses a range of measures to assess factors beyond mere economic output – including employment, workers’ pay, house prices, transport, the environment, work-life-balance and inequality. On an index of 42 UK cities, Preston was seen to have improved the most.

  1. 2. Strong Business

Preston is a centre for business of all finds, being home to major technical manufacturers including BAE Systems and energy company EDF, who operate two nuclear power stations in the area

As well as numerous other important manufacturers, Fox’s Biscuits and Warburton’s to name just two, there are also a number of public sector employers in the area including NHS establishments, one major university (plus several other campuses) and the Lancashire Constabulary

Of all Lancashire’s 14 districts, Preston has the most business enterprises, with 5,165 individual  registered businesses.

  1. 3. Regeneration

Preston is part of a tremendous £435 million investment process to improve the city’s infrastructure development. The initiative, called the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, will allow Preston and Lancashire to take forward 4 new road schemes, enabling over 17,000 new homes to be built, freeing up land for new development, and creating more than 20,000 jobs.

  1. 4. Growth and Yields

Industry experts Savills predict the North West to be the number one highest capital growth region in the UK, with prices rising by 24% over the next five years. Investors should invest soon to make the most of this predicted growth while price points are still low. Of course, capital growth is only one side of the investor’s coin. Rental yields in the centre of Preston are well above the UK average, in excess of 7%.

  1. 5. History and Character

Preston is a historic town located in the north western county of Lancashire. Lancashire itself is actually one of the youngest traditional counties, though still came into existence officially as far back as 1182, Preston, however, appears in the Domesday book of 1086. Remaining largely unassuming as a market town for centuries, the city – or town as it was then – adapted to Lancashire’s new mechanical focus during the industrial revolution – becoming home to numerous manufacturers, especially around cotton.

Preston’s heritage is honored via a number of museums and well conserved listed buildings, from libraries to barracks to old mills. This classic architecture gives and historical heritage lends a sense of pride steadfastness to the City.

  1. 6. Student Population

There are three Universities in and around Preston, including UCLan, Lancaster University and Edge Hill. UCLan is located in the centre of Preston, and employs 3,000 staff and is home to over 30,000 students. Graduate retention is a focus of northern cities as they fight to retain the talent that their local universities have nurtured. Figures from 2014/15 suggest that Preston’s graduate retention rate is 22%.

  1. 7. Lifestyle and Location

Preston is located about 35 miles from both Liverpool and Manchester, which alone gives residents access to two of the most exciting cities in the UK. A location near to the Lake District also gives Preston’s residents access to some of the most beautiful countryside in the whole of the UK. Lake Windermere, for example, is less than an hour’s drive away. Transport connections, particularly by rail, and motorway make Preston a very well connected location.

Preston itself has an abundance of attractions and amenities for residents, from clubs, bars and restaurants to a range of museums.

 

What does all this mean? It means that Preston is one of the most up and coming locations in the UK, reaping the rewards that come from a location in the highest growth region in the country. Property investors are paying attention.

Why invest in Preston Property in 2020?

Why invest in Preston Buy-to-Let Property: Growth and Economy

Preston is a historic town located in the north western county of Lancashire, about 35 miles from both Liverpool and Manchester. Lancashire is one of the largest local economies in the North of England, currently generating over £23 billion in GVA per annum and supporting nearly 620,000 jobs.

In the 19th century Preston transformed from a small market town into an industrial centre for cotton milling, interestingly becoming the first town outside of London to be lit by gas.

Like many such ex-industrial northern towns, Preston has witnessed a resurgence over the last two decades and officially became a city in 2002. Nowadays the city continues to focus on manufacturing and engineering, being home to major technical manufacturers including BAE Systems. Perhaps not known to many people is that the Nuclear power industry is a major part of the local economy, with energy company EDF operating two nuclear power stations in the area and another private company, Westinghouse Springfield, manufactures the nuclear fuel for the plants.

As well as numerous other important manufacturers, Fox’s Biscuits and Warburton’s to name just two, there are also a number of public sector employers in the area including NHS establishments, one major university (plus several other campuses) and the Lancashire Constabulary

Preston was named as the UK’s most improved city in 2018 by thinktank Demos, which uses a range of measures to assess factors beyond mere economic output – including employment, workers’ pay, house prices, transport, the environment, work-life-balance and inequality. On an index of 42 UK cities, Preston was seen to have improved the most.

Unemployment decreased 3.1% in 2018 year compared with 6.5% in 2014, and improvements above the national average have been felt in health, transport, the work-life balance of its residents, and for the skills among both the youth and adult populations.

Following an economic model borrowed from the US rust-belt city of Cleveland, Preston has used a range of ‘ultra-localist’ policies to boost the economy, including encouraging local procurement by the city’s big players and the development of worker owned cooperative, all believed to have factored in to the first place ranking.

 

Why invest in Preston Buy-to-Let Property: Regeneration

Preston is part of a tremendous £435 million investment process to improve the city’s infrastructure development. The initiative, called the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, will allow Preston and Lancashire to take forward 4 new road schemes, enabling over 17,000 new homes to be built, freeing up land for new development, and creating more than 20,000 jobs. The plan is expected to add £1bn to the local economy in the next decade.

Another major regeneration initiative is the Stoneygate Framework, a masterplan to regenerate the 25 hectare Stoneygate area of the city centre into an ‘Urban Village’. The Masterplan for the Stoneygate area represents an ambitious programme which, if substantially implemented, will radically transform this part of Preston. The area has the potential to deliver 1600 new homes as well as commercial and other floorspace.

Why invest in Preston Property in 2020? Aspen Woolf

Why invest in Preston Buy-to-Let Property: Property and Rental Growth

Preston is actually the third largest City in the North West and offers a number of options to suit all investors. For those interested in the BTL market, figures from Zoopla state that over the last 5 years prices have increased by a substantially healthy 13.14% over the last five years.

But what next? In their Residential Property Forecast, industry experts Savills predict the North West to be the number one highest growth region in the UK, rising by 24% over the next five years. With the aforementioned regeneration initiatives and the growing economies belonging to Manchester and Liverpool encapsulating other areas of the region, not to mention attracting commuters, Preston has the longevity and growth potential that UK property investors look for.

Of course, capital growth is only one side of the investor’s coin. Rental yields in the centre of Preston are well above the UK average, in excess of 7%.

Why invest in Preston Buy-to-Let Property: Solid Student Population and University Employers

There are three Universities in and around Preston, including UCLan, Lancaster University and Edge Hill. UCLan is located in the centre of Preston, and employs 3,000 staff and is home to over 30,000 students. Graduate retention is a focus of northern cities as they fight to retain the talent that their local universities have nurtured. Figures from 2014/15 suggest that Preston’s graduate retention rate is 22%.

With nearby Liverpool and Manchester also highly popular amongst young people and retaining more and more of their university’s students, more demand is created amongst affordable commuter locations.

 Why invest in Preston Buy-to-Let Property: Summing Up

The North West is officially the top location for property capital growth forecasts over the next 5 years. Preston is certainly going to benefit from this enormous growth, thanks to huge regeneration and infrastructure projects. Now is the time to invest before prices shoot up.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming Preston development, offering luxury city centre apartments.

Can Leeds build the MIT of the North?

Leeds MIT of the North

For those that don’t know, MIT, or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is among the foremost universities for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just next to Boston, this pioneering university has educated some of the most innovative scientists, mathematicians, astronauts and leaders the world has even known, from Richard Feynman to Kofi Anan to Buzz Aldrin.

Now, imagine if such an institution were to exist in Northern England? That’s the proposed idea to ‘reward voters’ in the northern regions for dramatically turning from red to blue and contributing to the overwhelming Conservative victory at the end of 2019.

The term ‘Northern Powerhouse’ has become familiar since George Osborne pledged to revolutionize the post industrial cities of the North under Teresa May. Boris Johnson’s new appointee as Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen has pledged to invigorate the initiative by proposing the creation of a world leading institution in Leeds.

The UK is already well known for its leading universities, and Leeds is already home to at least one. However, when it comes to those coveted STEM disciplines most of the very best institutions are not located in the North – think of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, and UCL for example.

One particular social phenomenon which has often been said to afflict the northern regions is so called ‘Brain Drain’ – where talented young people move away from their own regions to pursue their careers and eventually settle down. With the closing down of much industry over the last 30 years and the diminishing of apprenticeships, many talented school leavers move to other areas to get their education and find careers. The creation of an institution with the prowess of MIT will not only keep them there but will attract the best talent from all over the world.

MIT provides inspiration beyond its institutional reputation; it is a central player in the Greater Boston local economy thanks to the presence of innovative companies, industries and jobs which emerge out of the universities presence in the area. In fact, MIT have acknowledged their utility in regard to the local economy and created the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) to help regions in other countries around the world develop innovation-led economies. Leeds is one region working with MIT within this exciting initiative.

The framework consists of a ‘series of mechanisms to translate, convene and educate teams of regional leaders’. REAP Team Leeds City includes stakeholders from the University of Leeds, KPMG, Arup, the Nexus Innovation Center, and the Leeds Academic Health Partnership, together developing entrepreneurial ecosystems in Leeds that will have local and national impacts.

Stakeholders have determined several best practice principles from the MIT model. Firstly, a commitment to a place-based approach and the importance of geographical ‘place’ to allow intangible assets of networks and knowledge to mingle and grow among each other. Secondly, innovation districts are seen as being key to cities attracting fast growing companies and processes to drive economic growth. Leeds must make bold investments in campuses, business space, and public facilities. Thirdly, there must be a focus on creating access to networks for research, mentoring, advice and commodification of ideas.

If an MIT of the North can be created in Leeds, then enormous growth can be unlocked in Northern England, creating networks of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems. This is an incredibly exciting time for the North.

At Aspen Woolf we specialize in investment opportunities in Northern England. Leeds is one of our most popular locations and we are excited to be presenting unparalleled development in the city to our investors. Have a look at what we have to offer.