Eyebrows were raised recently when Huddersfield topped the chart in a Zoopla survey of UK house prices.
The town recorded a 4.6 per cent growth in values over the first six months of this year, beating Leeds, Manchester and London. The capital recorded a 0.9 per cent increase in prices.
Buy-to-let is helping to fuel the rise in Huddersfield as investors turn their attention to areas where house prices are low and rental yields are high. The average property price in the town and its surrounding villages is £167,306 but at the lower end of the market, you can find a two-bedroom terraced house from £50,000.
Daniel Keighley, of Bramleys estate agency, says that most homes under £90,000 now sell to investors while first-time buyers are saving for longer and targeting what used to be the second step of the property ladder, the £90,000 to £150,000 price bracket.
High-yielding shared houses are also an option for landlords thanks to Huddersfield’s popular university, although there is a lot of competition from purpose-built student accommodation. Bramleys say that student property presented to a high standard with good facilities still lets well. The agency has just sold a four-bedroom property for £132,000 that brings in a gross annual rental income of £13,680 a year.
“There is a lot of interest in buy-to-let because people are looking for an alternative place to put their savings. Most of the investors are local or from within a 20-mile radius so they know the area. We don’t get many buyers from the south,” says estate agent Simon Blyth, whose eponymous agency has seen an uplift in sales and instructions since the vote to leave the EU.
While the bottom end of the market is buoyant, the top end is slower. The mansions built on textile wealth are proving too big for some buyers, although there was no shortage of interest in the 1960s when Huddersfield boasted the highest number of Rolls Royce motor cars in the country.
“There is still a lot of old wealth in Huddersfield. A lot of the big properties are still owned by mill owners and ex-mill owners who maintain the houses to a very high standard,” says Simon Blyth, who adds that the town also has an interesting range of housing, along with some exceptional examples of residential architecture, including Modernist masterpieces. The most sought-after locations are rural hotspots like Honley, Holmfirth, Kirkburton, Shepley and Farnley Tyas. The latter, says Daniel Keighley, is “the Alderley Edge of Huddersfield”. Slaithwaite, where prices start at £80,000, is up and coming, according to Bramleys. The village abuts moorland on the Manchester side of Huddersfield and has a great community spirit and a train station.
“Huddersfield’s rail and road links to Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield are superb. It also has beautiful countryside and great schools,” says Simon Blyth, who suggests that those lured by golden triangle favourites give Huddersfield a chance.
Unfairly labelled “distinctly unglamorous” by one national newspaper, the town has proved a winner with estate agent Alex Johnson, of Yorkshire’s Finest, who moved to Huddersfield from Knutsford in Cheshire.
“You can get twice as much house for your money here compared to Knutsford. It’s a fantastic place to live. I can’t see me ever leaving,” says Alex,