Channel 4’s new HQ is coming to Leeds

Did you know Channel 4 are moving a huge segment of their operations to Leeds? The new Channel 4 national HQ is due to open its doors in the Majestic Building in early 2020.

The move comes as part of Channel 4’s ‘4 All the UK’ strategy, designed to attract and develop talent from across the UK and support the increased spend on ‘Nations & Regions’ creative content, moving from 35% to 50% of main Channel 4 commissions by 2023.

The national HQ will contain the new Digital Creative Unit – a new department created for commissioning and producing content to engage with audiences on digital platforms, especially with a focus on young creators.

Commissioning departments will include: Comedy, Daytime, Drama, Entertainment & Live Events, E4, Factual, Popular Factual and Sport. Other departments present in the Leeds office include On-Air Continuity, Pictures, and digital roles for 4Creative and All 4.

Additionally, when it comes to business support, the Leeds office will be home to Audience Research & Insight, Business Affairs, Corporate Relations, Data Science, Finance, Human Resources, Information & Archives, Press & Publicity, Production Finance, Systems Delivery, Technology, and Workspace departments.

With a major new workforce relocation like this comes an equally big recruitment drive. Positions in many areas of broadcasting are waiting to be filled, including research executives, analysts, listing editors, data engineers and scientists, programme information editors, human resources advisor and information security roles, and many more. The total number of jobs available in Leeds as a result of this relocation number around 200.

In an interesting bid to lure some of the company’s talent from the old London HQ to Leeds, Channel 4 are offering many incentives to staff, including several hundred pound travel grants for those wanting to investigate their potential new homes and extra annual leave for those hat do move. Channel 4 are also offering to cover the cost of homebuyer fees, legal fees, stamp duty, mortgage redemption fees and removal fees as a way to entice workers. Staff can also claim the cost of temporary accommodation while they look for a new home after transferring to Leeds. Clearly, this is fantastic news for workers who are looking to open a new chapter of their lives in Leeds – it could be the cheapest move of their lives.

What does all this say about Leeds? It’s extremely encouraging that Leeds won the bid for Channel 4’s new HQ, and signifies just how far the Yorkshire City has come as a centre for both culture and business. As investment pours into the city, this is just the start of bigger things for an ever expanding city.

At Aspen Woolf, we have a range of investments in Leeds – one of our most popular locations. You can find out more about investment opportunities here.

Image (c) Campaign Live, October 2019

Bradford is bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025!

The West Yorkshire city of Bradford is due to spend £1.4 million on a bid to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2025. A number of the city’s key cultural institutions have come together to form the Cultural Place Partnership which will drive the bid forwards as they contest against the likes of Chelmsford, Luton, Medway, Northampton, Southampton and Tees Valley. Organisations making up the Cultural Place Partnership include Bradford-based live arts company, The Brick Box; the University of Bradford; Bradford College, and a number of local and national funders.

What is the UK City of Culture?

In 2008 Liverpool was chosen as the European Capital of Culture, an accolade which brought the city a solid boost in revenue and a number of social benefits. The UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport realised the benefits of celebrating UK cities for their culture as a means of celebration and regeneration. A panel was chaired by producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, that decided on the format and remit of the awards, concluding that that the accolade would be granted to a new city every four years, and major events to be held in the winning city would be decided on a case-by-case basis. Previous winners have included Derry-Londonderry, Hull and Coventry for 2021. These cities have often secured large sums of investment and seen increased culture-led regeneration on the back of the UK City of Culture Award. The estimated value of the award in increased revenue is £350 million.

 

Why can Bradford become UK City of Culture 2025?

With a long history and a famously varied ethnic diversity, culture, in many guises, has naturally embedded itself in Bradford’s way of life. Kala Sangam, for example is a leading multi and intercultural arts initiative that delivers a varied programme featuring south Asian and collaborative arts.

Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, thanks to its rich film history, exceptional filming locations and dedication to the medium through events and festivals – not to mention, Bradford is the location of the National Science and Media museum.

The cultural pedigree of Bradford reaches far back, with notable figures in the arts emerging from the area such as the Bronte Sisters, playwright JB Priestly, artist David Hockney, Jazz Musician Allan Holdsworth and many many more.

Even with this very strong cultural identity, engagement in the arts has been unfortunately low. However, the city has been working hard to remedy this by incorporating new structures to benefit emerging artists and groups, with success in this area seen by the emergence of a number of new voices, from England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, to the Bradford Literature Festival and many more diverse practitioners and organisations.

It’s interesting to note that Bradford is the UK’s 6th largest city, and twice the size of Hull which was the UK City of Culture in 2017.

Bradford’s bid forms part of its overall Economic Strategy, which aims to make Bradford the UK’s fastest growing economy over the coming decade, increasing the value of the economy by £4 billion.

Winning the bid would be massive for Bradford; such a strong cultural heritage and commitment to the arts means the city’s bid is very strong indeed.

The West Yorkshire city of Bradford is due to spend £1.4 million on a bid to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2025. A number of the city’s key cultural institutions have come together to form the Cultural Place Partnership which will drive the bid forwards as they contest against the likes of Chelmsford, Luton, Medway, Northampton, Southampton and Tees Valley. Organisations making up the Cultural Place Partnership include Bradford-based live arts company, The Brick Box; the University of Bradford; Bradford College, and a number of local and national funders.

What is the UK City of Culture?

In 2008 Liverpool was chosen as the European Capital of Culture, an accolade which brought the city a solid boost in revenue and a number of social benefits. The UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport realised the benefits of celebrating UK cities for their culture as a means of celebration and regeneration. A panel was chaired by producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, that decided on the format and remit of the awards, concluding that that the accolade would be granted to a new city every four years, and major events to be held in the winning city would be decided on a case-by-case basis. Previous winners have included Derry-Londonderry, Hull and Coventry for 2021. These cities have often secured large sums of investment and seen increased culture-led regeneration on the back of the UK City of Culture Award. The estimated value of the award in increased revenue is £350 million.

 

Why can Bradford become UK City of Culture 2025?

With a long history and a famously varied ethnic diversity, culture, in many guises, has naturally embedded itself in Bradford’s way of life. Kala Sangam, for example is a leading multi and intercultural arts initiative that delivers a varied programme featuring south Asian and collaborative arts.

Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, thanks to its rich film history, exceptional filming locations and dedication to the medium through events and festivals – not to mention, Bradford is the location of the National Science and Media museum.

The cultural pedigree of Bradford reaches far back, with notable figures in the arts emerging from the area such as the Bronte Sisters, playwright JB Priestly, artist David Hockney, Jazz Musician Allan Holdsworth and many many more.

Even with this very strong cultural identity, engagement in the arts has been unfortunately low. However, the city has been working hard to remedy this by incorporating new structures to benefit emerging artists and groups, with success in this area seen by the emergence of a number of new voices, from England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, to the Bradford Literature Festival and many more diverse practitioners and organisations.

It’s interesting to note that Bradford is the UK’s 6th largest city, and twice the size of Hull which was the UK City of Culture in 2017.

Bradford’s bid forms part of its overall Economic Strategy, which aims to make Bradford the UK’s fastest growing economy over the coming decade, increasing the value of the economy by £4 billion.

Winning the bid would be massive for Bradford; such a strong cultural heritage and commitment to the arts means the city’s bid is very strong indeed.

 

 

Here at Aspen Woolf we have a range of investment opportunities all over the UK. To learn more about Bradford investments click here.

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019?

leeds town hall

It’s widely known that Leeds represents one of the best, if not the best (as we’ll see later), places to invest in UK property in 2019.

Considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area, Leeds is a thriving modern city, central to the economy of northern England and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative. In this guide we’re going to look at why people choose to invest in Leeds now, and what measures are being taken to make sure the city maintains its place among the biggest powers in the UK economy.

Invest in Leeds: The economy
Invest in Leeds: Regeneration and Investment
Invest in Leeds: The Property Market
Invest in Leeds Life and Culture

Leeds at a glance

Situated in the middle of the United Kingdom, though distinctly in the North of England, Leeds is the 3rd largest city in the UK by area and the one of the biggest by population – 789,194.

Residents find themselves living in a vibrant, youthful city with a strong identity. An industrial and artistic history is mirrored in the many cultural highlights the city has on offer, from museums and galleries to opera, theatre, local ruins and much, much more. One of Leeds’ biggest attractions among visitors and residents alike is its location in the stunning county of Yorkshire. This means that the urban centre of Leeds is surrounded by a wealth of countryside dotted with stately homes, villages and even the Roman city of York.

With that little picture of a prosperous and characterful city painted, let’s now have a closer look at why investors choose to invest in Leeds’ property.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? A burgeoning economy

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why invest in Leeds? A burgeoning economy

 

With a focus in the financial services, legal, manufacturing, health and retail sectors, Leeds is a force to be reckoned with, having the fastest growing economy in the UK, now worth £64.6 billion and predicted to grow by 21% over the next 10 years.

Leeds has the third largest jobs total going by local authority area, at a total of 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015, and also had the highest increase in employment rate of any core city from 2009 – 2017.

There are more than 32,000 VAT-registered businesses and more than 6,000 small and medium-size enterprises in Leeds, and the amount of mid-size and companies and organisations is way above the national average.

For ‘scale-up’ companies – defined as those which achieve 20% growth year on year for three years (in revenue or employees), Leeds is only behind London and Cambridge.

In terms of foreign investment in the last year (2018-2019), Leeds is the fourth best performing in the UK, with an 11% rise in new projects, compared to an average 10% drop among cities outside of the UK.

Leeds itself falls in to the Leeds City Region, an area encompassing the city itself and neighboring districts. It’s certainly interesting to note that this region is the largest contributor to GDP in the Northern Powerhouse and the largest regional economy outside of the capital, with a combined workforce of more than 1.4 million. Even more impressive is that if the North of England was its own country it would be the 21st largest economy in the world.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? Investment and regeneration

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest in Leeds? Investment and Regeneration

 

As we’ve just seen, Leeds’ economy is at present an outstanding force in the UK’s output. This is set to get bigger and better with a series of investment and regeneration projects, designed to cement the city and region as top performing economy.

In 2014 Leeds City Region signed the country’s largest Growth Deal worth over £1 billion, and aiming to bring an estimated 8,000 jobs, up to 1,000 homes and at least £340 million investment into the Leeds City Region economy over the following 7 years. The Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan aims to take that even further by creating more than 35,000 jobs and £3.7 billion of annual economic output by 2036.

 

The Northern Powerhouse

All of these major plans come under the umbrella of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – a Government strategy to redress the balance between the economies of the North and the South by revolutionising the North’s industrial output. This will be done through investing in key barriers to growth, such as infrastructure, transport, and education.

The ‘Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review’ predicts an additional 850,000 jobs in Northern England by 2050, and marks out digital, health innovation, energy and advanced manufacturing as the primary areas for growth. Financial and professional services, education and logistics are identified as supporting capabilities and will help boost the North’s output by £97 billion.

We are already moving out the first phase of the plan which has been aimed at devolving power to the 11 regional authorities that make up the Northern Powerhouse. Phase 2 is about putting devolved power into action, focusing on improving Skills and employment; Enterprise, innovation and industrial strategy; Trade and investment; and housing.

What does this mean for Leeds? Greater devolved power and a focus on growth creation within the area.

 

Transport

A major aspect of the Northern Powerhouse strategy is the effort to revitalise connectivity in the area by re-engineering the transport infrastructure and creating new routes. There are two huge projects underway to do just this: Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Rail 2. Importantly it’s not just the individual projects which will bring growth to Leeds and the Northern Regions, but it’s the interconnection between the two which really matters – in short NPR offers more and better connections throughout the north and HS2 creates better connections from the north to the south. Joined together, this means that areas of the north previously poorly connected are now able to access the south and other areas.

We’ve previously written an article explaining the differences between these two initiatives that you can read here. The main takeaway is that major economic growth will be unlocked from creating these better connections. As an example Leeds region predicts that HS2 will lead to about 40,000 new jobs and a £54 billion boost to the regional economy by 2050.

 

Doubling the size of the city centre

Office take-up in Leeds has passed the 1m sq ft mark in 2017 – more than twice the amount the 2016 figures and 88% ahead of the 10-year annual average for the city. Clearly, to allow for economic growth the city needs to grow physically too.

Leeds’ regeneration plans focus on 7 key districts:

  • The Innovation District – Proposals for £1bn investment in areas of enterprise and research.
  • Mabgate – Focus on independent business, food and beverage and residential growth.
  • The Cultural District – Includes a £14 million investment in the West Yorkshire Playhouse, as well as new residential, office and leisure space.
  • The Retail District – Leeds is already the third largest shopping destination in the UK, but further invest in Victoria Gate will see the city expand even further in this regard.
  • East Side – 2,000 new homes to be built by 2028.
  • West End – The new Government Hub is to accommodate 6,000 civil service workers.
  • South Bank – Doubles the size of the city centre and regenerates no longer used industrial space.

For the purposes of this article we’re going to focus on the biggest one of these: the incredible South Bank project aimed at creating over 35,000 jobs and over 8,000 new homes.

 

A case study: Leeds South Bank

South Bank Leeds is an area of 253 hectares situated just south of the River Aire, and the scene of a huge development project intended to regenerate the space and recast the identity of the entire city.

The area is the size of 350 football pitches and will be transformed into a ‘globally distinctive’ destination for living, learning, creativity, leisure and investment. According to the South Bank Leeds Regeneration Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), there will be more than 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs as part of this landmark regeneration project.

South Bank Leeds has long been home to multinational companies, including ASDA Walmart’s European headquarters and SKY. There are also more than 3,000 people currently living in the area, and a sector comprising more than 250 businesses – but now the area will become even more prosperous thanks to over £500m of announced investment which includes:

  • The acquisition of the Holbeck Portfolio Sites by the Commercial Estate Group, along with major proposals for a mixed-use development at this key strategic location
  • Work to repair Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works progressing on site
  • Vastint’s mixed use development proposals for the 22 acre Tetley Brewery Site including a City Park, their second investment in the UK and the first outside London
  • Planning permission granted for over 1,000 new homes at Tower Works, Iron Works and Dandara with an increase in applications for 3 bedroom plus units
  • City’s proposals for a £125m Climate Innovation District
  • A further phase of development for Leeds College of Building in the area.
  • The new HS2 station will be combined with Leeds train station and is set to welcome more passengers than Gatwick airport.

 

This landmark development also seeks to create a link from the past to the present.  This once industrial place boasted a strong, enduring sense of community, especially in the Holbeck area. The South Bank Leeds project aims to reconnect these historic suburbs with Leeds City Centre once again, adapting these old buildings and giving them a new life in the 21st century.

At the heart of the development, a brand-new skyscraper will transform the city’s skyline. Forty storeys high and 142 metres tall, it will take the mantel of tallest building in Leeds from Bridgewater Place.

Plans have also been submitted to build 928 new residential properties in a sub-project called X1. The houses will be built on the old Evans Halshaw site off the A61, at a cost of more than £200 million. Comprising five separate buildings, each equipped with individual gyms and gardens, the development will also boast cafes, restaurants, offices and shops.

City living will be more in demand than ever, thanks to various developments within the South Bank Leeds area. For example, Arthur’s Fold boasts 101 brand-new apartments, with a mix of high-spec one and two bedroom units. It also has the added extras that are a prerequisite for urban living – a gym, lounge and cinema for residents. Prices for the apartments start at £122,500, a clear indication of the sheer value for money investors can expect.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? The Property Market

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why invest in Leeds? The Property Market

 

Of course none of the above guarantees a property market worth investing in. London, for example, is a dubious proposition for property investors in spite of its enormous economy and local wealth – prices are high and yields are low. Would be investors need to ask how Leeds compares to other areas. The answer? Extremely favourably.

Leeds is rated as the number one forecast for residential price and rental growth in the UK by the independent property advisors JLL, with an expected growth of 16% by 2023 – overtaking Manchester after several years. The report claims that low prices combined with a ‘fundamental lack of new development in the city centre since the financial crisis’ means that value is forecast to grow 1.1% above the UK average and rental growth to increase by 0.8% above average.

JLL go on to identify 29 sites that would be able to deliver over 10,000 apartments – doubling the existing number of units in the city centre. Only 45% of these developments have obtained planning permission meaning delivery will be at a steady rate over years, reducing over-supply. All in all demand in the city is extremely strong thanks to the shortage of supply. The average house price in Leeds is £204,766, that’s £15,234 below the national average, meaning Leeds presently offers excellent value for money.

It’s worth mentioning here that Leeds’ population to grow by 6% to reach 826,000 by 2026, which between the years 2016-2026 is 1.8% above the national average. That’s 47,000 people who will need to be accommodated.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? Life and Culture

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest in Leeds? Life and Culture

 

Contemporary Culture

Although Leeds has a noted and fascinating past as an historic wool mill town, these days it is more widely known for its modern cultural attributes, although many museums and exhibits honour the city’s industrial past.

Over time, Leeds has become well known for its talented artists, with the likes of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Kenneth Armitage and Damien Hirst having studied at the Leeds Arts College. Consequently, there’s plenty of art galleries and museums to visit, ranging from modern to classical art and everything in between.

The city also hosts the Leeds International Film Festival, England’s largest film festival outside London. 40,000 eager cinema-goers view over 300 shorts and feature-length films over the course of the festival, with the winning short films eligible to enter the industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony, the Academy Awards.

Leeds is heavily invested in its cultural footprint, and has designed the Leeds Cultural Strategy 2017-2030. There are many objectives to this strategy, but the main focus is for the city to value and prioritise cultural activity such that Leeds will become nationally and internationally recognised as a thriving, internationally connected cultural hub. Leeds will be at the forefront of cultural innovation, and the strategy intends to grow the cultural sector to increase its contribution to the local economy.

Long term cultural commitment and a strong additional reason why investors should consider investment in Leeds – this kind of plan ensures the city remains an attractive place to live and visit, and becomes more and more notable in the scope of UK culture.

 

Retail

Leeds has become the principal shopping centre for the entire Yorkshire and the Humber region. This is thanks, in part, to the many indoor shopping centres within the city, including St John’s Centre, the Merrion Centre, The Core, The Light, the Victoria Quarter, Trinity Leeds and the Corn Exchange. These centres feature a combined floor-space of 2,264,100 square feet (210,340 m2), that houses over 1,000 retail stores.

But not content with the proliferation of shopping malls, the city has a large pedestrian zone where many UK and global high street brands can be found. Briggate is the main street where the likes of House of Fraser, Debenhams, Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer can be found. If you’re looking for something a little more high-end, head to the Victoria Quarter. Luxury retailers including Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton make themselves at home in this area, amongst some truly incredible architecture.

Not only is this attractive to tourists but a strong retail centre means that residents can feel secure in the knowledge they have all their potential shopping options on the doorstep.

 

Wrapping up

So why invest in Leeds? As we’ve seen, Leeds is the number 1 location for value growth and rental growth, and is well below the average in terms of price. If this isn’t enough to entice investors, the huge regeneration project aimed at doubling the size of the city centre is an extraordinary and attractive aspect of the Leeds’ future. HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail only further represent the city’s growth potential. There is very little doubt that Leeds will go from strength to strength and reaffirm itself as the major city in the Northern Powerhouse.

Why Invest in Sunderland in 2019?

Like many cities in Northern England the northeastern maritime city of Sunderland was once a giant of manufacturing. With times and technologies changing, these entire regions have tended to fall by the wayside, certainly when compared to London and the South East. However, there are strategic drives from government at both a national and local level to redress the balance through long term investment and major changes to infrastructure.

In effect, what this means is that now is a very good time to invest in these once neglected areas as they are due an uplift in prosperity, growth and population. Sunderland is a good example of a city with exceptionally low house prices and great potential – not to mention strong yields.

Below, we go into more detail on why investors should be looking to Sunderland.

 

Why Invest in Sunderland in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest In Sunderland? Regeneration and Growth

 

Invest in Sunderland: Regeneration, Investment and Growth

The 3,6,9 Vision is a major strategy to help bring Sunderland in line with the Northern Powerhouse initiative by investing £1.5bn into the city across a number of sites. This investment will bolster Sunderland’s economic growth by contributing to the creation of 20,000 new jobs.

Sunderland has a strong history in the manufacturing and automotive sectors, and it is understood that these ought to continue to play a big part in the city’s GVA. 5,000 of those new jobs will be dedicated to manufacturing through the creation of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and its associated Enterprise Zone – set to become one of foremost development in Europe’s manufacturing and automotive trades. The IAMP will help generate around over £400 million of private sector investment through circa 371,000sqm of manufacturing space.

Any city wanting to compete in the 21st century must make a commitment to nurturing digital infrastructure. Sunderland is showing its willingness to adapt to the 21st century by aiming to create 2,000 jobs in the Software Industry and 1,500 in the Social Enterprise Sector. The Vaux site will make a large contribution to these areas through a 5.5 hectare landmark development in the former Vaux Brewery. Said to be the most significant of the city centre developments, Vaux will bring around 2,500 jobs in its own right, and will provide a combination of office space, shops, restaurants, cafes, a hotel, and apartments.

The city centre has already seen investment in the high-street, via a £2 million plan to improve two streets and the public square. The Minster Quarter Masterplan proposes a further £3 million of spending to upgrade the city centre and mark it out as a cultural destination.

According to the 3,6,9 Vision, total infrastructure developments should create an additional GVA of £1.8bn by from 2015-2024. On the issue of economy, it’s worth highlighting some current success stories.

Last year saw the opening of the stunning Northern Spire Bridge, the tallest structure in the North East. 2,000 people worked on the 340m long construction that joins the banks of the River Wear, and is estimated to help create over 6,000 jobs – as well as work as a significant piece of branding, signaling the industriousness of Sunderland.

In June of this year the 10 millionth vehicle was constructed at Nissan’s Sunderland plant. The 10 million mark has been reached after 33 years of production, which makes Sunderland’s Nissan plant the fastest producing automobile manufacturer in the UK. Over that time Nissan has grown from 470 to around 7,000. Only a year earlier the 1 millionth Nissan Juke was built in Sunderland. These figures are quite staggering, and it’s a testament to Sunderland’s ingenuity.

Two companies have announced notable news for the city over the last few months – Hyperdrive Innovation and Ocado. Granted you might not have heard of the former, a lithium battery manufacturer, but it’s precisely these kind of components that Sunderland is accustomed to building. Hyperdrive Innovation have doubled the size of its production facility after a £350,000 investment. Remember the Veux site mentioned earlier? Ocado are named as the first occupier of the The Beam building, taking the top two floors and creating 300 jobs.

Hopefully this paints a positive picture of Sunderland’s output, but to make it even clearer, the Department for International Trade show that in 2018/19 the North East created 125 jobs for every 100,000 people of working age population. That places the region behind only London and the West Midlands as the best performing UK areas.

 

Why Invest in Sunderland in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest in Sunderland? Attractive Prices and High Yields

 

Invest in Sunderland: Low Prices, High Demand and High Potential

Now is an excellent time to invest in Sunderland. While house prices in several northern cities have seen a dip over the last few months (up to September 2019), Sunderland has in fact enjoyed a significant rise of 2.9% – 1.5% more than the national average. The city still remains one of the cheapest places to buy property. According to the Land Registry, Sunderland’s average house price at £118,648 is an enormous £114,062 below the average house value for the UK.

While house prices are cheap, rental yields are exceptional, especially in the most central SR1 postcode that generates an impressive 7.53% average yield. As a comparison, that is 2.72% more than London’s top BTL postcode. The private rental sector is the fasted growing sector and has doubled in the last 10 years.

The future looks even brighter for Sunderland property investors as the demand for housing is due to outweigh the supply – 14,000 new homes are required by 2033 to bring the city in line with its economic targets as outlined in the 3,6,9 Vision.

 

Why Invest in Sunderland in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest in Sunderland? Good Student Rental Market

 

Invest in Sunderland: Student Rental Demand

A hugely important factor in the local rental economy is the demand among students; there are over 19,000 students at the University of Sunderland, and over 3000 of those graduate each year.  Sunderland’s university is forging international connections around the world, with a new campus in Hong Kong and numerous learning institutions across the world.

The university’s presence in Sunderland itself has been growing thanks to several large scale investments, including an entirely new medical school and an Hope Street Xchange, the University of Sunderland’s £10m centre for enterprise and innovation.

The University of Sunderland is becoming ever more popular and that means more demand for student rentals.

 

Sunderland’s Overall Outlook for Property Investors

When people think of Northern England it’s most likely that Yorkshire or north-western cities like Manchester or Liverpool come to mind. Given the North East’s strong performance in property value and rental yields, cities like Sunderland should not be overlooked and represent a new focal point for investors looking for extraordinarily low prices.

Aspen Woolf are experts in property investment, with over 14 years’ experience generating high performing income streams for our investors. Have a look at our investment opportunities here.

What is Stamp Duty? – Updated for 2019

stamp duty

Stamp Duty Land Tax applies to the transfer of ownership on land and property in the UK that meets certain conditions. Over the years the rules have changed, but we’ve compiled this guide to give you the most up-to-date facts.

 

What is Stamp Duty? – Updated for 2019 Aspen Woolf

What is Stamp Duty?

When buying property in the UK it is important to be aware of the tax requirements that come with such a purchase and continued owning of that asset. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, tax on the sale of property is known as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), often shortened to Stamp Duty (in Scotland you pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax instead). Not all property is subject to stamp duty, as it is dependent on the value of the property. There are also different rates that apply depending on whether the land or property is designated as residential or non-residential.

Currently, the thresholds above which stamp duty is applied are:

  • £125,000 for residential property
  • £150,000 for non-residential property

Any property transaction under those thresholds won’t incur stamp duty, but any sales over those points will be subject to stamp duty at a certain rate. Similar to Income Tax, rate applies only to the the value of the property above those thresholds. So if your residential property is valued at £250,000, you will only pay stamp duty on £125,000.

There is also a higher rate of Stamp Duty for property purchases if you already own a property in the UK and are purchasing an additional one i.e. a buy-to-let property. In this case all property purchases will incur the additional higher rate and will be taxed at a minimum rate of 3%, with the percentage increasing as the price increases.

 

What is Stamp Duty? – Updated for 2019 Aspen Woolf

So what are the 2019 rates and how are they applied?

The rate of stamp duty that is applied to a property sale is linked to the value of the property. The higher the price, the higher the tax.

For non-residential properties, the following rates of stamp duty are applied:

  • Up to £150,000, there is no stamp duty tax applied
  • The portion between £150,001 and £250,000 is taxed at 2%
  • The remaining amount, above £250,000, is taxed at 5%

For residential properties, the rates of stamp duty work out as follows:

  • Up to £125,000, there is no stamp duty tax applied
  • The portion between £125,001 and £250,000 is taxed at 2%
  • The portion between £250,001 and £925,000 is taxed at 5%
  • The portion between £925,001 and £1.5 million is taxed at 10%
  • The remaining amount, above £1.5 million, is taxed at 12%

However, if you are purchasing an additional residential property for £40,000 or more, when you already own at least one other (as is usually the case with buy-to-let properties), they will be taxed at the higher rate of Stamp Duty. For these transactions, stamp duty is applied at the following rates:

  • Properties up to £125,000 are taxed at 3%
  • The portion between £125,001 and £250,000 is taxed at 5%
  • The portion between £250,001 and £925,000 is taxed at 8%
  • The portion between £925,001 and £1.5 million is taxed at 13%
  • The remaining amount, above £1.5 million, is taxed at 15%

Stamp Duty for First Time Buyers

It’s good news if you’re a first time buyer in England or Northern Ireland. You will not have to pay Stamp Duty on properties worth under £300,000. For properties valued in excess of this figure the standard rates apply on the sum above the threshold.

 

What is Stamp Duty? – Updated for 2019 Aspen Woolf

Stamp Duty – An example

So how does that work out exactly? Let’s take the example of a buy-to-let property that costs £275,000 (if you already own one or more properties, and therefore the higher rate of Stamp Duty applies). The Stamp Duty you would owe on this property is calculated like this:

  • 3% on the first £125,000 = £3,750
  • 5% on the next £125,000 = £6,250
  • 8% on the final £25,000 = £2,000
  • Total SDLT = £12,000

Stamp duty is applied equally to freehold and leasehold properties.

So, now you know how Stamp Duty is applied to different property purchases, but how is it paid?

 

What is Stamp Duty? – Updated for 2019 Aspen Woolf

How Do I Pay My Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty is paid to HMRC, the UK’s taxation department. Whenever you purchase a property of any kind, you must send a SDLT return to HMRC. You must then pay any tax incurred within 14 days of completion – this time limit came into effect as of 2019.

If you are working with a solicitor, agent or conveyancer to complete your purchase, they will usually file your return and pay the tax on your behalf on the day of completion, then adding the amount to the fees they charge you.

However, if you are conducting the transaction entirely by yourself, it is your responsibility to file the return and pay the owed taxes directly to HMRC.

Understanding stamp duty can seem daunting, and naturally you’ll want to ensure you pay the correct amount. But with patience and careful consideration (and the assistance of a reliable solicitor!), it needn’t be a big headache in the property buying process.

 

If you found this article useful, you may also find Is Property Still a Good Investment? and The Difference Between Freehold Vs Leasehold Properties interesting.

Are we in Bargain Britain for Overseas Property Investors?

UK flag map united kingdom

Political upheaval thanks to Brexit has triggered a chain reaction that makes the UK a hotspot for overseas investors. The value of the pound is around the lowest it has been since the vote was taken to leave the European Union in 2016, and this alone means investors are getting more value for their money than any other time in recent memory. Pair these bargain prices with enticing mortgage deals and low house prices, and it’s natural to wonder if this might be the best time ever for overseas investors to enter the UK property market.

Data published in the Daily Telegraph that compiled mortgage enquiries found most overseas mortgage requests came from nations whose currencies are pegged to the dollar – UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar all fall within the top ten.

To get an idea of just how low the pound is against the Dollar, let’s look at the two currencies in 2014 compared to this year, 2019.

April 2014 – £1 = $1.68
April 2019 – £1 = $1.3

 

That’s a huge difference of $0.38. Let’s say for example that in 2014 you wanted to buy a property for £150,000, your investment would have an equivalent value of $252,000. With the condition of today’s currencies, a £150,000 property would be equal to only $195,000. That’s enormous difference of $57,000.

The current low value of the Pound Sterling and the correspondingly higher value for a purchase compared with previous, pre-referendum, prices is clearly enticing overseas investment. But the deal would be made even sweeter if the Pound were to reclaim its prior dollar value of $1.68. So, will the pound rise in the post-Brexit economy?

 

Are we in Bargain Britain for Overseas Property Investors? Aspen Woolf

Is now the best time to invest in the UK?

 

Of course it is somewhat difficult to say, but there are those who are optimistic about the strength of the pound. Throughout much of the chaos over the last couple of years the Pound has made several gains against the Euro and the US Dollar which does signify a certain degree of strength. The factors that will have the most impact on the Pound Sterling are the UK’s economic strength after Brexit and policy decisions made by the Bank of England, both of which are difficult to forecast.

But, we should remember that property is a long term investment and Britain is in unprecedented difficulty at the moment as the Brexit saga continues. Given time, stability and a new understanding of Britain’s place in European and world trade, it seems perfectly reasonable that the pound will once again retain higher values.

Here at Aspen Woolf, we have seen an interest from overseas buyers in all parts of the UK, but with a particular focus on the emerging and comparatively lower priced areas in Northern England. Overseas investors are able to score a triple whammy with their investment package: not only will they make the most of the low value of the Pound and the low house prices in the UK, but they will also be able to save even more if they buy with an off-plan discount.

Whether you’re from home or abroad, you can have a look at our investment options here.