There’s a buzz about Bradford and property developers and agents are excited. Low capital prices, inward investment, accountancy giant PwC bringing jobs to the area, construction of new city centre offices and the UK City of Culture bid are all creating a positive atmosphere for a city that is often only recognised for its poverty and unemployment statistics.
Agents report that buyers are snapping up homes as soon as they go on the market, and with the city recently named as one of the most affordable places for first-time buyers to purchase a property in England, the market, like most of the UK at the moment, shows no sign of slowing down yet.
The new affordability index by online mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages found that the city’s average property price is £145,981. With an average annual salary of £28,790, this equates to 14.30 per cent in terms of monthly mortgage payments as a percentage of income – the lowest in England.
Dacre, Son & Hartley’s small Saltaire office is expecting 10 new listings in the next week. In an average week it would normally have two or three. “You’d be lucky if you got 10 listings in a month before covid, whereas now you could probably double that,” says branch manager Aleysha Benn. “And the thing is, they’re selling too.”
She adds: “In Bradford you’ve got individual little villages nestled around the city. Saltaire, for example, is just ridiculous. Everything’s getting asking price or above. You can’t even negotiate. It’s definitely a sellers’ market. No matter how many properties you bring to the market, there doesn’t seem to be enough right now because everybody’s going after the same thing.
“They want a three or four-bedroom semi or detached. It’s family homes that are certainly selling in this current market.”
As well as Saltaire, other popular areas of Bradford include Queensbury, Thornton and Allerton. “If you’ve got a family home with a nice garden, it’s going to go,” Aleysha says. Demand, she adds, is coming from people moving within Bradford as well as outsiders moving in. “We’ve got a few people from the south that have moved up,” she says.
“The heritage site here in Saltaire does fantastically. Three or four bedroom terraces will go for around £300,000 but when it comes to buying family homes, they tend to be people from the area. We’re getting a few people who are either coming over from Bingley or moving to that area to be nearer family and schools. It’s a real mix.”
According to Aleysha, Bradford city centre is a sticking point. There is an abundance of available apartments in the city centre, she says. “Newer ones tend to do well because they’re brand new and they’ve not been lived in before. It does depend on location too. “
One of the newest apartment blocks on the market is Conditioning House, a Victorian woollen mill conversion, which was recently completed by Priestley Construction.
Managing director Nathan Priestley knows the city better than most.
He launched his estate agency there when he was 23 and has gone on to build a portfolio of 40 property-based businesses, ranging from sales and lettings to construction services and the in-house development of residential and commercial buildings. Ten years later, he has offices in Bradford, Leeds and London and employs about 100 people.
The beautiful grade two listed Conditioning House, has been converted into 152 apartments. There is also space for offices, a gym and a cafe. Just 15 of the apartments are still on the market with over 100 sold off plan. Prices start at £90,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and £140,000 for a two-bedroom duplex. In comparison, the average one-bedroom flat in Leeds city centre is £120,000.
“It’s going well and it’s been popular,” says Nathan. “Especially since it’s completed and people can see the quality of it.”
Investors have made up the bulk of buyers at Conditioning House and 20 per cent are owner occupiers. It is predominantly occupied by young professionals, with students and retired people making up the rest of the mix.
“It’s mainly domestic investors, not international,” says Nathan. “Historically, in the last five years, you’d have more international buyers. We’ve also been pushing for more owner-occupiers in the building because we believe it’s important to have people in the building who own the apartments and look after them and make it more of a homely environment rather than just tenants who might only be there for six or 12 months.”
Mill conversions are a Priestley Group speciality, though the business also tackles commercial to residential property projects, new-build, property consultancy and high-end refurbishments for clients.
Security at Conditioning House is a big draw for potential buyers, according to Nathan. “This development is double secured,” he says. "You have to go through several gates, which need either codes or swipe cards, before you get to the building. We have full time security, CCTV at all angles and top end locks everywhere.”
Nathan adds: “It’s a very secure development and we’ve had a lot of people interested in buying apartments because of that. It’s the go-to development in Bradford city centre at the minute is what we’re hearing from all of our agents.”
*Conditioning House has been converted into 152 apartments plus a cafe, office space and gym. The Victorian mill was constructed to control the moisture content of textiles and certify their true weight and length. It is the only mill of its kind in the country. The stunning conversion makes the most of the original features, including iron framework, link bridges and exposed brick. The apartments start at £90,000, visit www.priestleyhomes.co.uk