Christmassy York is the safe bet for homebuyers

York is the most festive city in the UK and its house prices reflect its perennial popularity. Sharon Dale reports.

York's reputation as the UK's most festive city is well and truly in tact this season.

Thousands of visitors have already admired its 160,000 LED lights and visited its famed St Nicholas Fair, which has a myriad of stalls selling everything from mulled wine to hand-crafted gifts. The Minster plays its part as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This all adds up to festive feel-good factor and is just one of the reasons why the city is one of Britain's property hotspots.

Tanya Coffey of Savills York, says: “York is a magical city all year round but it is particularly special at Christmas.

“York's appeal is that it has everything from culture to first class shopping and dining, yet it is quite a compact city giving it a community feel that other cities don't have.

“Community spirit is one of the biggest draws for our buyers, alongside our fantastic train links to London, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester.”

She adds that despite political uncertainty, properties in and around the city are still “incredibly sought after”.

Edward Stoyle, Head of Residential at Carter Jonas York, and Ben Hudson of Hudson Moody estate agents agree but add a caveat: many buyers, especially at the top end of the market, want to be within a mile radius of the city centre and its train station.

“They don't want to live outside and have to join the traffic coming into the city,” says Edward, who stresses that York is a magnet for wealthy buyers.

It's one of the reasons why central York property commands a hefty premium. One bedroom apartments start at £170,000 and paying well over £1m doesn't guarantee parking or a garden.

Favoured areas include Aldwark, St Saviourgate, Bootham, The Mount and a little further out, trendy Bishopthorpe.

The most expensive house for sale at the moment is a £2m, eight-bedroom townhouse on Driffield Terrace. It is on the market with Savills.

However, you won't always find the best homes for sale on Rightmove. Many are “off market” and you'll only get to know about them if you register with an estate agent and prove you can afford them. Carter Jonas sold a £3.6m home and a £2m house this year, both off market.

A good percentage of buyers come from the rural areas surrounding York and move into the city so that their children have easy access to more amenities.

Hudson Moody say 70 per cent of buyers are local while 30 per cent are from outside the area with an increasing number of people downsizing into the city.

Only about five to ten per cent are from London, according to Carter Jonas.

“We get people from down south but they generally have some kind of link to the city, such as business interest or growing up or going to university here.

“Some of those moving from the south think they will get a bargain but they get a shock when they see city centre prices,” says Edward Stoyle, who adds that York property is a safe investment.

“Prices here rarely deflate. I moved here 11 years ago and one of my first sales was a house on Bootham for £700,000. It's just sold again for £1.2m.”

Ben Hudson believes that house prices in York have risen between three and five per cent this year with areas within the city walls seeing the greatest gain.

The lack of affordability within the walls drives buyers further out.

Ben suggests looking at up-and-coming Burton Stone Lane where two-bedroom terraced houses start at £160,000. “By Yorkshire standards that is high but not by York standards,” says Ben.