Harrogate's residential property market has provided a safer bet over the last three years than the glitzy London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, according to new research from The Search Partnership.
As Britain's housing market splits in two, with stronger activity in the north and more challenging conditions in the south, the analysis of Land Registry figures shows that Harrogate has provided a more consistent return since 2015.
The Search Partnership, which is based in North Yorkshire and specialises in finding houses, rural estates, farms and land for buyers, has analysed the completed sales volumes and average prices achieved for Kensington and Chelsea where in 2011, 157,869 people lived, and compared them to figures for Harrogate, which had a similar-size population of 158,649.
Director Tom Robinson said: “Scrutinising these two areas, which have such similar population figures, has provided some really interesting results.
“Over the last three years in the London borough, the average house price fell by six per cent from £1.32m to £1.24m, while in Harrogate it increased by six per cent from £262,000 to £279,000.
“Sales volumes have also plummeted by almost 30 per cent over the last three years in Kensington and Chelsea, from 2,178 to 1,557, whereas completed sales have increased in Harrogate.
“Put simply, if someone had £1m worth of property assets in Harrogate over the last three years, they would have seen more of a reliable increase in that investment, compared to Kensington and Chelsea, which has suffered from exaggerated peaks and troughs.”
He concedes that when you look at the data over the longer period of nine years, Kensington and Chelsea has outperformed Harrogate overall, but the spa town still remains a safer bet when it comes to avoiding the highs and lows of the property market in the south.
“It's fair to say that Harrogate is therefore continuing to prove itself as a reliable and secure place to buy property, and as the London property market falters and Yorkshire's market stands firm, we are seeing more people from the south either wanting to relocate entirely to Yorkshire or buy a second home here.
“So far this year 40 per cent of our clients have been from London, with a significant number of those choosing to buy in Harrogate,” says Tom.
Fellow The Search Partnership director Toby Milbank added: “Harrogate is such a resilient market and people know that if they invest in this popular spa town they won't lose out. Even when the big crash of 2007 happened, it hit Harrogate later and prices recovered quicker. This is primarily due to the fact that it's very much a sellers' market, even in tougher times.
“Harrogate is sitting pretty because there is never a huge increase in the level of supply, so when good properties hit the market they are snapped up.”
He advises that property overlooking The Stray or on The Duchy are particularly sound investments as they are so desirable and there is low supply of homes on the market.
The reasons are manifold. “Harrogate has this superb combination of excellent state and public schools, a direct rail link to Leeds and beyond and it's just a short drive into the North Yorkshire countryside, so its
popularity is easy to understand and it often ranks high in the national ‘best' or ‘happiest' places to live listings,” says Toby, who adds that York has also fared well over the last three years.
The Search Partnership say that the average sale price for homes in York city is now £250,000, a little lower than Harrogate, but the transaction numbers are also strong and sale prices for the most popular areas of the city are achieving record levels.
“The most popular areas are in the city centre, where professional people choose to locate, normally for the schools and the train line to London,” says Toby. “We are often asked to find houses and flats for buyers keen to avoid the often frustrating commute from villages on the outskirts of York.”
The Search Partnership's findings reflect those of another recently released report from estate agency firm Savills, which predicts that the North-South divide will narrow in the next five years. House prices in London and the South East are forecast to grow 9.3 per cent compared to a 20.5 per cent increase in Yorkshire.
Toby Milbank says: “London's market is fuelled much more by international investment and with government talk of taxing foreign owners gaining pace, the impact on the property market is going to be much harder felt in the capital.
“There's not as much foreign residential investment in Harrogate or York, the market here is driven more by people moving around the county or up from the south.”
www.thesearchpartnership.co.uk or call 01423 324716.