When Paul Wilson climbed on to the bottom rung of the property ladder in Ilkley eight years ago, his two-bedroom terraced house cost £105,000. The same property is now worth £235,000.
This level of house price inflation is the reason why first-time buyers are a rarity in this town. It’s a Golden Triangle hotspot that just keeps on getting hotter.
“We don’t get many first-time buyers because if you do the sums they’d have to be earning at least £50,000 a year to buy here with a five per cent deposit,” says Paul, who is manager at Dacre, Son and Hartley’s Ilkley branch.
They do, however, get a lot of affluent individuals, families and retirees and a sizeable portion of returners who sell up in London to come back to Yorkshire, then commute back to jobs in the capital.
The reasons are clear to anyone who has visited the area. Ilkley has everything and more. Some would even argue that it outperforms the prestigious and larger spa town of Harrogate for status and amenities.
It is smaller and more compact than Harrogate and it has direct access to beautiful countryside, including the bluebell woods, the famous moorland and the wildlife-rich riverside. It also has a railway station offering a 28-minute ride into Leeds.
Ilkley Grammar School, which is non-selective, is a big draw for families, as is the leisure centre.
There are also plenty of places to eat and drink, including a branch of Betty’s and Ilkley’s high street is bucking the retail trend by thriving with a mix of great independents, including Covet, Nora’s, Richard Grafton Interiors and the Grove Bookshop, and higher-end chains, such as Jigsaw, Whistles and Oliver Bonas.
The cultural offering is also good thanks to its theatres and the annual literary festival. Lester Hurst, who owns the Ilkley branch of Hunters, believes it is the most golden town in the Golden Triangle.
He also points out that that the average time taken to sell a home is just 26 days and the average house price in Ilkley is £400,000. This is the highest average value in the Golden Triangle and above Harrogate, where the average price is £373,000 and York, where it is £320,000.
“Forty per cent of buyers come from outside the area,” says Lester, who adds that few now buy-to-let because the yields are low, three to four per cent compared to seven or eight in cheaper locations, but the capital growth is high.
Winter is having its usual effect with both buyers and sellers battening down the hatches so stock is low. Brexit is also playing a part, according to Paul Wilson, who says: “We have a lot of business people here and they are concerned about the effects of Brexit on their companies. The result is that they may have considered moving but they are now staying put. I think next year, maybe in spring, they may find the confidence to come to the market.”
For those who can afford it and want to live in Ilkley, the best bet right now is to register with the estate agents in town. A sizeable percentage of property for sale is discreetly marketed and never reaches Rightmove or the agents’ websites.
If you can’t afford to live here, look to the fringes. Burley-in Wharfedale is slightly cheaper than Ilkley and has a train station. There are also plans for 500 new homes on the edge of it, some of which should be classed as affordable.
Menston, also with a railway station and closer to Leeds, is 12 per cent cheaper than Ilkley while Silsden in the other direction towards Keighley has homes for half the price.