Cracker of a city is hot property for buyers and sellers

York Christmas lights, a view along Petergate.
York Christmas lights, a view along Petergate.
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It is one of the most Christmassy places in the country but York presents year-round sparkle for property buyers. Sharon Dale reports.

The traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols at the Minster tomorrow is one of the highlights of the festive season in York.

That reminder of true meaning and a host of seasonal shopping events have proved a winning combination for the city, which is regularly hailed the Christmas capital of Britain.

York’s charm, character and location add to the attraction. It boasts the magnificent Minster, quaint streets, gorgeous Georgian houses and Victorian terraces, all served by a good road and rail network, with the North York Moors and Wolds on the doorstep. It’s little wonder that York isn’t just for Christmas as far as house hunters are concerned.

The city is a property hotspot and is regularly targeted by wealthy buyers from London and the South East, though estate agent Tim Blenkin, of Blenkin and Co, has some advice for top- end house hunters.

“During the daytime and in the early evening when the Christmas lights sparkle, the city of York is a picture postcard of a Dickensian Christmas with its narrow streets, cobbled squares, half-timbered Tudor houses, markets and bustling streets full of excited shoppers and carol singers. But later on the revelry really kicks off and continues on into the early hours, long after Santa has left his sooty footmarks. So if you’re a buyer looking to spend £1m plus in York, choose a cul-de-sac.”

He has identified the three most desirable streets in York as St Peter’s Grove, off Bootham; New Walk Terrace, off Fulford Road; and St George’s Place, opposite the racecourse.

“These houses enjoy the best of York at Christmas time without having to face directly on to busy, traffic-filled streets thronging with late-night merrymakers,” says Tim.

Ben Pridden, of Savills in York, adds: “York’s heritage makes it a wonderful place to spend time at Christmas. Our shops, the St Nicholas Fayre and the Minster’s carol concert are second to none and have become a real tradition for many. The housing market in the city reflects this popularity, with values in the best addresses recovering to 2007 peak levels. People come to live in York for many reasons, particularly the excellent schooling and rail links, making it a hotspot for families and commuters.

“More people are leaving London and the South to make York their home, with some buyers retaining a base in the capital to use a couple of nights a week for their job.”

Prices start from about £90,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and £130,000 for a two-bedroom terrace. A large Georgian townhouse in a central location can command around £1m and prices look set to rise.

Edward Stoyle, of Carter Jonas, York, says: “The market in York shows no sign of slowing even though it is Christmas. The activity is driven by a lack of supply.

“It is rather like parts of London, there are very few good properties coming on and those that do come onto the market have buyers waiting for them. A fair number are selling before they actually reach the market, which in turn drives demand and prices gradually higher.

“The demand at the upper end is typically from families with children at one of the private schools, where at least one of the parents has links to Leeds or London.

“The mid to lower end is equally vibrant, again based on a lack of stock in central York and the increasing availability of finance.”

York has also been highlighted as one of the best buy to-let yield cities in the country and has no shortage of tenants.

Toby Cockroft, of DHP Croft, agrees that the market is booming: “Prices are growing and the number of people that want to live in the centre of the city is remarkable. Indeed, a couple from London have just completed on their house in York’s only square just so they can be settled for Christmas. York is a wonderful place to live made even better by the twinkle and glamour of Christmas lights and music.”