Glynis Frew, chief executive of Hunters Property Plc, www.hunters.com
It’s fair to say that news about much of the country’s property market is a little downbeat at the moment. Rarely a day goes past without another story appearing.
But there’s a lot more to the UK than London and the south-east. While it is true that new nationwide challenges have surfaced against the backdrop of Brexit and the ensuing political uncertainty, there’s also plenty to be positive about.
That’s especially the case with Yorkshire, the birthplace of Hunters. Prices have remained robust in the face of well-documented challenges in the past few years and the future looks bright. It’s not just Hunters that is optimistic, Savills has forecasted 17.6 per cent compound growth in Yorkshire over the next five years, a comfortable 3.4 per cent above the UK’s 14.2 per cent and beaten only by the North West at 18.1 per cent.
This will be music to the ears of owners, house-hunters and investors alike and it’s not hard to see why they are putting their support behind the region.
Yorkshire produces some 55,000 graduates every year, creating endless opportunities for landlords and housebuilders to capitalise on a huge pool of hungry buyers and renters. E.Surv’s latest mortgage monitor found that Yorkshire was the top location for small deposit borrowers – a whopping 33.7 per cent of these loans went to house-hunters from this region. Add to that the fact first-time buyers pay an average of under £140,000 here and you could make a strong case for Yorkshire being the de-facto first time buyer capital.
Major cities are leading the charge as investor confidence continues to make its presence well felt. Student cities like Sheffield and Leeds - which set a new peak price early this year - are hotbeds for commercial and infrastructure investment and there is a demand for property that we haven’t really seen for some time. But it’s not just the major cities that are set for a bright future. York continues to be in high demand as it always has been, whilst the golden triangle and the villages of the Dales will always be a first port of call for those escaping the bustle of the city. No amount ofpolitical turmoil can ever change the attraction of these places.
Then there are the likes of Halifax or Hull, whose cultural regenerations are beginning to give it the recognition it deserves, whilst Wakefield, which recently achieved its highest year-on-year price increase, looks set to emerge as the region’s latest technology hub. I could go on.
It’s this kind of excitement and progress that will draw people from all over the country, ensuring that demand continues to rise at pace. It represents a great opportunity for housebuilders, who can ensure we avoid the supply/demand imbalance we’re seeing in many parts of the country. It’s not just large housebuilders but also small and medium sized builders thathave their role to play.
The politicians can help too. The government wants to place its focus on supply side measures and it needs to continue thinking about the way in which the planning system can be reformed to increase building rates.
We would also encourage them to be a little more forceful when it comes to Local Plans, ensuring that they stretch beyond the five years to at least ten and perhaps fifteen.
It’s now up to those in property to do their bit and deliver the move that people want. That means staying positive. And in Yorkshire there’s no reason not to.