UK Property Market Growth Slows

… but prices continue to rise!

The latest Hometrack UK Cities Index has shown that the annual rate of house price growth in twenty of the UK’s largest cities slowed to 8.2% in August 2016. In July, growth had been at 9.5%. The average house price in the UK, as a result, was £239,400. Prices are still rising, but just not as fast at the moment.

Why Is the UK Housing Market Slowing?

People are finding it increasingly difficult to buy a home whilst the UK housing market continues to inflate quicker than earnings, particularly in the south, where many potential buyers are finding themselves completely priced out of the market. This fact is what is probably most of the reason for the slowdown in house price growth over the last couple of months.

There’s also the factor of the shock outcome of the EU Referendum, which gave lots of potential buyers reason to pause for thought. And, of course, is also in part due to the recent interest rate cut by the Bank of England.

So What’s the Good News?

Nonetheless, these disruptions to the UK housing market don’t seem to have had a lasting effect, and we’re seeing the market begin to settle down again now. This is good news that suggests an underlying strength within the residential UK housing market, which will hopefully see us optimistically into the long term.

What Does this Mean for Investors in the UK Property Market?

There is still a massive imbalance between supply and demand of properties on the market. This goes some way to explaining the continuing growth of the rental sector, and why property investors are increasingly leaning towards buy-to-let investment, including HMOs, as their investment of choice.

If residential property as an investment is still on your radar, however, then it’s still a good time to buy. There are signs that house prices are going to continue to rise, and getting in whilst there’s a chance you can afford to could pay in the longer term.

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For investors in the property market wishing to take the sensible route of diversifying their portfolio, record low interest rates make the potentially higher returns of equity crowdfunding and P2P lending for Real Estate an appetising option.

So choose your weapon… all signs point to a continually promising future for the UK property market.

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Beating Your Cash Investment With Property Crowdfunding

Following the financial crisis of 2008, cash savers have been hit hard. Interest rates are at their lowest for 300 years, with no sign of any improvement for years to come. For those reliant on cash savings for a monthly income, things are looking particularly bleak.

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In the short term, a deposit account may be a safe haven for your money, but over time, cash saving will almost certainly leave you with a loss, as inflation swallows up the value of the money you’re trying to save.

So what’s the investment answer?

Assuming you have a juicy £100,000 to invest, you do have other options. Divide that sum between what you’ll need short term, whilst locking the rest into medium term investments. Both strategies will go towards providing you with a monthly income.

Global Equity Income funds provide twice the return of cash, and corporate bond funds will generate about 50% more monthly income than cash savings. However, these come with a level of risk due to fluctuations on the stock market. The alternative? Well, crowdfunded property investment, of course!

Whilst there is always risk on investing money anywhere, we remove many of the uncertainties associated with property investment, and offer consistent, predictable returns via simple, transparent investments suitable for all levels of investor.

What’s more, at The House Crowd, we offer rates of return, both equity and P2P, that are extremely attractive. Our crowdfunded property investments typically offer 9.5% gross yields fixed for five years, or 10% or more per annum on our development properties.

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Along with offering more potential for profit, and a preferable alternative to seeing your savings fester sadly in a stagnant savings account, our model is inarguably a much more interesting and engaging way to manage your investments. The House Crowd is unique in offering both equity and peer to peer secured lending and a range of investment types and terms. This allows you to diversify whilst holding your portfolio on one, easy to manage, trackable platform.

It’s always a sensible move to get advice from an independent financial advisor before investing. A professional will be able to review your needs to ensure the portfolio you choose is of the best quality to offer you the best returns. However, whichever way you swing it, we’re confident that our crowdfunded property investment strategy is the way forward to seeing your money grow!

 

Your Guide to Investing in North Cheshire

Home to the eponymous Golden Triangle, North Cheshire is among the most affluent and, some may say, ostentatious, areas of the North West of England.

It’s fair to say that the pretty countryside towns and villages of North Cheshire have risen to fame over the last few years as a result of their popularity with celebrities, notably footballers. However, beyond the customised Range Rovers and paparazzi, beneath the glitz and glamour, remains a uniquely English charm. It is the natural beauty, as much as the coveted postcodes, that make North Cheshire such a desirable place to live.

Of course, the question we are – as always – seeking to answer, is whether North Cheshire is a good place to invest your money.

There’s no denying that Cheshire is a prime location, whichever way you cut it. Even away from the mansions and gated communities, the housing market here remains buoyant. Developers still view it as a hotspot, not simply because of its reputation, but because of its juxtaposition of achingly beautiful English countryside with the vibrant metropolitan buzz of nearby northern powerhouse, Manchester. Manchester itself is rocketing in popularity, with significant investment into the city’s infrastructure (including substantial development work on Manchester Airport). For a more in-depth look at Manchester’s prowess, check out our guide to investing in Manchester city.

Those who come to live here do so because they know that they are getting the best of both worlds. A place that’s perfect for raising a family or escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, in close proximity to the leading business centres of the UK outside of London.

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In this article, we will be looking at a few of the most desirable towns and villages that make up the Golden Triangle, with the aim of helping you decide if investing in North Cheshire is right for you. The ‘Triangle’ is generally considered to consist primarily of Prestbury, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow, with Altrincham, Bowdon and Hale also getting plenty of golden attention. Let’s begin at the top of the Golden Triangle, with footballers’ favourite, Prestbury.

Prestbury

Arguably less ostentatious than nearby Alderley Edge, Prestbury is, nonetheless, home to an impressive list of famous residents.

Of course, there’s Wayne and Coleen Rooney, who’ve been living in their mansion in Prestbury since 2005. There’s Peter Crouch and his model wife Abbey Clancey, who rent a £3 million home in Prestbury. Along with a string of other footballers, Prestbury is also home Freddy Flintoff, former Slade frontman Noddy Holder and comedian Paddy McGuiness.

Yes, it is one of the most sought-after and expensive places to live outside London. But is there any room for property investors to take a slice of Prestbury pie?

Well, the truth is that there isn’t a great deal on the market in Prestbury. Of the twenty properties sold in March 2016, eleven were detached houses averaging just over £800,000 in value. Just one flat was sold, two semi-detached and six terraced properties.

Prestbury Property

 

Prestbury Property

 

 

Prestbury Property

What does this mean? Well, in short, you’ll have to look very closely to get a look-in at anything worth your investment, in an area where the highest proportion of properties on the market are over £1 million. Nonetheless, if you’re able to snap up something on the lower end of the market, it should certainly make a very quick turnaround. In July 2016, terraced properties spent an average of just 38 days on the market, with three bed properties proving good fodder for a quick sale.

 

Prestbury Property

 

Prestbury Property

 

Prestbury Property

Prestbury Property

Alderley Edge

A quaint village characterised by lovely Tudor-beamed cottages and a delightful rose coloured stone church, Alderley Edge is, in essence, the epitome of an English rural village. Don’t be fooled by the rows of designer boutiques, florists and delicatessens. Alderley Edge may be WAG-central, but it’s as charming as they come.

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As with anywhere, charming does come with a price tag. Take Whitebarn Road, for example, where the average property price is well over the £2 million mark. This is among the highest value streets in Cheshire, and the rest of Alderley Edge isn’t too far off.

Alderley Edge Property

Alderley Edge Property

Alderely Edge Property

Alderley Edge Property

Alderley Edge Property

 

And is there a rental market in Alderley Edge? You might think this super posh town was almost exclusively the domain of the owner-occupier, but there are rental properties around. As such, we’ve done our rental market charts for you:

Alderley Edge Property

Alderley Edge Property

Alderley Edge Property

Aldereley Edge Property

Alderley Edge Property

Altrincham

Altrincham’s town website describes its population as being “made up of an exceptionally high number of professionals, captains of industry and homeowners. The prosperity of the town and its inhabitants are such as to make it almost unparalleled outside the south east of England.” Clearly, Altrincham is pretty proud of itself.

As well as being impossibly posh (we’re going to assume you’re getting the picture by now), Altrincham is also a very well appointed town in terms of transport networks to Manchester city, retail, leisure, schools, and – crucially for us – property.

A 2014 report by Halifax claimed that Altrincham residents pay a whopping £2,227 per square metre for their homes. Things certainly haven’t eased off since then, so you can pretty much expect prices to be as high as elsewhere in the Golden Triangle area. Still, it’s not as expensive as London, where (in 2014) a square metre of property weighed in at over £5,000, and in Kensington and Chelsea, over £10,000. Anyway, here are the charts:

Altrincham Property

 

 

 

 

Altrincham Property

Altrincham Property

Altrincham Property

Altrincham Property

A quick word about transport: Altrincham is prime territory for those successful types commuting into the city. Situated on the A56, there is easy road access to Manchester, as well as national motorway routes. Integrated rail, bus and metrolink interchange are designed seamlessly to run into Manchester and direct to its mainline rail stations, which make journeys to London pleasingly straightforward for professionals taking regular trips to the capital. Just fifteen minutes from the centre of town, Manchester Airport is within very easy reach, too.

And here’s those all-important rental market charts:

Altrincham Property

altrent2

Altrincham Property

 

Hale

Hale – (home to The House Crowd HQ) is situated within the borough of Altrincham, and is bounded by Bowdon, Hale Barns and the River Bollin (which flows through most of these towns). About nine miles south west of the city of Manchester, it’s got great transport links via the M6, M56 and M602, as well as the integral public transport networks. Again, it’s ideal territory for commuters.

Though new developments are thin on the ground, the existing properties in Hale are characteristically beautiful. Ignoring the top heavy market, and focusing more on the affordable, there are terraced houses and semis available for prices that parallel those of the south east of England. You can also pick up a luxury penthouse for under £300,000, and there are a selection of retirement flats around, too.

It’s a town that is as – if not more – out of reach for most buyers. However, as the rental market continues to expand and push owner-occupancy rates down, investors could benefit from the promising rental yields to be expected in such an in-demand location.

Bowdon

Very similar to Hale, Wilmslow and the rest, Bowdon also comprises the small village of Dunham Massey (which is owned by the National Trust), Bowdon Vale and Warburton.

It’s home to a relatively small population of just under 9,000, and is a much quieter, more rural-feeling village than some of the others covered in this article. Most of Bowdon is owned by the National Trust, as part of the Dunham Massey Estate, which comprises the stunning Dunham Massey Hall and deer park, which dates back to 1616.

But what of the property market? Here are the charts:

Bowdon Property

 

 

 

 

 

Bowdon Property

Bowdon Property

Bowdon Property

Bowdon Property

And again, here come the Bowdon rental market charts:

Bowdon Property

 

 

 

Bowdon Property

Bowdon Property

Wilmslow

Just three miles from Manchester Airport, and ten miles south of Manchester centre, Wilmslow is yet another North Cheshire town prime for commuters to the city. Home to roughly 30,000 residents, including the obligatory scattering of celebs, there’s little to suggest Wilmslow is anything less than on a par with its neighbouring affluent towns.

That being said, the property market here feels a lot more fluid. There are significantly more flats, terraced properties and semis on the market (as of July 2016), even if the prices are characteristically steep. Rental yields are, however, promising.

Wilmslow Property

wilmslow property

Wilmslow Property

 

Wilmslow 4

wilmslow property

wilmslow property

…and, once more, the Wilmslow rental market:

wilmslow property

wilmslow property

wilmslow property

Conclusion

The Golden Triangle and satellite villages of North Cheshire are, as we have seen, prime real estate territory. As one of the most desirable locations in the United Kingdom, the area comes with a correspondingly high price tag.

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As such, those seeking an opportunity for buy-to-let investment are likely to benefit from decent rental yields across the North Cheshire area. There is no sign of interest dropping off on the owner-occupier front, either. As more professionals flock to Manchester to take advantage of its ever-growing influence on the economy, there will continue to be demand for properties for the most affluent.

So, should you consider investing in North Cheshire? If you can, then it looks promising. As always, we must tell you that nothing is certain, and we cannot guarantee that your investment will pay off. Nonetheless, for those interested in getting involved in the higher end of the market, or taking advantage of opportunities on mid-range properties in the area, things could be very fruitful.

HC Developments – the development arm of The House Crowd – is currently building 4 luxury apartments in a prime position in Alderley Edge and 3 detached houses in Prestbury. We have recently bought another piece of land for 5 large detached houses and are actively seeking more land buying/ development opportunities.

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Your Guide To Investing in Stockport

Situated 7 miles south east of Manchester City Centre, Stockport has had a bit of a chequered history in terms of its desirability as a place to live. However, things are on the up for this former mill town, with earnest redevelopment plans current in full swing across the town. It’s a busy time, particularly with Manchester’s increasing popularity as the industrial and social epicentre of the North West.

Investing in Manchester

It’s no surprise, really, that Stockport is so determined to stake its claim on the map in light of Manchester’s continuing success, particularly with young professionals, and millennial creatives flocking to the city to work, study, and live the vibrant urban life that Manchester has to offer. It would be nothing less than foolish for Stockport not to be seizing this golden opportunity for fresh blood. And let’s just say, Stockport has been quick off the mark.

The potential impact that the substantial changes and improvements will have on the area should not be underestimated, and – in our opinion – endorses potential growth afforded to the area.

Investing in Stockport

Regeneration and Investment

One of Stockport’s main benefits is that it is ideally situated for commuters travelling into the city to work, with just over 10% doing so at present. With so much going on to develop Stockport itself, we’d be surprised if many weren’t abandoning the city in favour of Stockport town before long.

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The council is hard at work creating a town that will attract more residents seeking a place outside the main city, and also on creating an inspiring working atmosphere within Stockport itself. £1bn is being invested by Stockport Council and its partners, into a wide range of projects, both in leisure and retail, and in the commercial sector.

Commercial and Industrial

By the end of 2016, one of the North West’s newest business hubs, the Stockport Exchange, will be completed in Stockport town centre. Set within stunning landscaped public grounds, right beside the mainline railway station, the Exchange will offer 370,000 sq ft of serious prime office space, a 1,000 space car park, and a 115 bedroom hotel. This is just one part of the major commercial development being undertaken in the town.

The new Aurora Stockport industrial estate, just outside the centre of town, has also had £11 million poured into it, in order to transform the 18 acre site into 145,000 square foot of industrial space. It’s estimated that Aurora alone will create hundreds of new jobs in the local area.

Leisure and Retail

The town centre alone is receiving £900 million in investment over the next five years, to include street improvements and ‘Portas’ retail improvements. This, however, appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Redrock Stockport, next to Merseyway Shopping Centre, is a £45 million development set to be completed in late 2017, and will include a 10 screen cinema, new public squares and over 38,000 sq.ft. of retail and restaurant space, including an ‘Urban Realm’ with entertainment areas, bars and cafes. Research estimates that the development’s total retail market potential on completion will be around £469 million.

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The historical Market Place and Underbanks area of Stockport town centre has also received a hefty investment of £7 million, with the view of creating a hub for independent retailers, restaurants and bars, and workspace for the creative industries.

A large, design-sensitive project is underway to replace existing 1950s social housing with hundreds of newly-built two and three bedroom town houses, which will incorporate the refurbishment of historic properties and buildings within the Lower Hillgate conservation area.

New Housing and Transport Plans

The Council aren’t pulling any punches when it comes to housing and transport. £73 million of investment into town centre access and circulation, and £42 million for a transport interchange prove Stockport isn’t messing around making sure all the new residents and businesses they desire can get around the town with ease.

More residential development is taking place beside the Town Hall in Piccadilly Square. In place of the HR Owen Lamborghini former showroom, the construction of a luxury residential apartment development is in progress.

1,100 new houses are set to be built over the next few years, including new ‘urban villages’ in Covent Garden and Hopes Carr areas of the town. Over 270 new homes will also be springing up in nearby Brinnington.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Manchester International Airport, about 8 miles away, is closer to Stockport than it is to Manchester. The airport, too, is undergoing a £1bn transformation and growth program. Another reason why Stockport is a good call for property: its proximity to the airport makes it a popular housing location for airport workers – especially when the Metrolink is completed.

Just to be clear: investing early in property in Stockport while these regeneration plans are in progress is likely to prove to be a smart move, as major regeneration works like these into the infrastructure and the creation of many new jobs (such as those at Airport City) typically lead to above average increases in property prices.

Culture, Facilities and Education

Apart from being situated in the town’s business district, next to Stockport Courts and the Town Hall, close to Archer House is Stockport College Campus. The town’s main hospital, Stepping Hill, is only approximately 1.8 miles south of the town centre, and many of its staff will choose to live in the town centre close to its amenities and attractions.

Stockport town centre is not without its culture, either! The town is home to the National Hat Museum, and the Staircase House Museum, a beautifully restored 15th century townhouse in the historic Market Place. There’s also the Air Raid Shelters Museum, a WWII museum set deep in the sandstone caves under the town.

The Plaza in Mersey Square has regular live theatre, comedy, dance and music performances, while the Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery as four separate galleries hosting regular exhibitions.

Demographics and Work

According to data gathered by the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, in 2016 the total population is 286,800. 62% of these are of working age. Of this figure, 81.5% are ‘economically active’ (i.e. they work) – this is up 2.2% on 2015’s figures, and compares favourably with the UK average of 74.6%.

Stockport Demographics

The Council’s latest figures tell us that 41.4% of the Stockport population are educated to at least NVQ Level 4, and that in 2016, the highest proportion of Stockport’s working population are in Professional roles.

Full time workers who are resident in Stockport were found to be earning a gross median weekly income of £520.10. This is slightly above the UK median of £518.00, though the workplaces situated in Stockport itself pay slightly under the UK median of £518.00, at £495.30.

The Business District of Stockport is one of the largest employment areas of the town, concentrated to the south of the main shopping and retail area around Merseyway. Within the Business District, there are numerous employers occupying large office premises, including insurance companies, banks, local government departments, and the local authority.

To summarise: employment opportunities in the region are consistently healthy, which is why Greater Manchester has more UK millionaires than anywhere else outside of London.

Before we move on to details on property sales and rentals in Stockport, a quick note on marital status. It’s common sense that the marital status of a town’s residents has an impact on the sort of properties on the market, to an extent that parallels income factors. So, just for interest, here are some figures, gathered from the 2011 census:

Stockport Marital Status Demographics

Stockport Property Market

Stockport is a highly sought-after residential region of Greater Manchester, located on the southern Manchester/north Cheshire border. The town boasts an above-average home ownership rate, as well as strong demand for property and accommodation. As a result, property prices here are higher than average for the area.

The areas of Woodford, Bramhall and Hazel Grove rank among some of the wealthiest in the UK. What’s more, beyond the urban sprawl and close vibrant Manchester city centre, you’ll find miles of beautiful open countryside, from the Pennines to the Cheshire Plain.

Stockport Property Market

Using the most recent data to hand, we can see that the quickest sales in Stockport at present are in the £100,000 to £200,000 bracket, which is little surprise considering that the average house price in Stockport (according to March 2015 data) were around £156,421. Of course, this is likely to have increased over the last year, as the general UK property market has continued to swell during this period.

Stockport Property Sales by Value

Stockport Mean Time to Sale Property

Nonetheless, this information doesn’t tell us much about what buyers are getting for that price. If, however, we then look at similar data by type of property, as opposed to value, it becomes clear that the quickest movers are in the Detached and Semi-Detached categories, with three beds taking the shortest time to sell.

Stockport Property Market - Sale Time

Stockport Property Market Time to Sale by Bedroom

This is all very well, but if you’re looking to invest in rental property in Stockport, you’re going to want to see a different graph. Well, here you go:

Stockport Rental Market

The figures aren’t particularly out of the ordinary, with the highest volume of properties on the market being two bed and taking the shortest period to rent. The rental amount you can expect from Stockport at present is about £100 less than the UK average (excluding London), but within the general ballpark average of the north west. But post-regeneration? This could increase considerably.

To Conclude: Is Stockport Worth Your Investment?

There’s no short answer to this, because any location can see growth or price drops due to factors outside the foreseeable. So, as always, we’re not making any assurances.

However, there are some truly promising signs afoot in Stockport. The regeneration projects into which the town has pooled an optimistic £1bn are sure to bring a lot of interest to the town. Already, large corporate firms are beginning to pay attention.

Just in case you needed a few more examples, commercial lettings company Orbit has invested heavily on its portfolio in the town, modernising its office spaces, offering flexible office space packages, updating technology and broadband connectivity, and even introducing a reward scheme for its customers.

In addition, independent brewers, Robinsons, has invested £12 million in updating its portfolio of pubs, as well as opening a new visitors’ centre and restaurant, and software company CDL has expanded into a shiny new office in the centre of town, creating 50 local jobs.  

With so much money pouring into Stockport, now may just be the best time that there has ever been to invest in this long-overlooked northern town.

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