Investors – should you be looking north to the grand old city of York?

2 December 2020 | Investment

York is one of the most atmospheric and beautiful cities in the UK, but is perhaps overlooked by investors and holiday home owners when it comes to property investment, hidden behind the giant metropolises that surround it – which are more obviously investor-friendly thanks to their large populations of students and young professionals.

One Touch Property Investment, however, believes investors are missing a trick by not zoning in on the medieval city in the heart of North Yorkshire – a county often hailed as ‘God’s own country’ by its proud citizens.

“Its architecture and atmosphere are in many ways like its southern counterpart, Bath. Both cities were Roman settlements and York was once proclaimed capital of Britannia Inferior,” Sarah Phillips, marketing manager at One Touch Property Investment, says.

“It was once the second most important city in the UK, and justifiably so. Its location and road network made it a convenient base for warfare in the north, and several parliaments were held there over the years between battles.” 

Nowadays, Phillips says, York’s ambience is more laid-back. The city has a population of 150,000, which gives it a ‘metropolitan feel’ without seeming overwhelming. Its quaint, winding streets, independent shops and rich history ‘endears it to all who visit’, Phillips adds.

“With London house prices becoming more expensive and the prospect of owning property in the capital becoming a distant dream for most, people are deciding to take the plunge and move away. Major cities such as Birmingham and Manchester have attracted young professionals fleeing London, but York’s blossoming job market suits those pursuing a good career but a slower pace of life,” Phillips continues.

The Times recently named York as the ‘Best Place to Live in Britain’ due to its enticing mix of heritage and hi-tech.

Population growth in York is expected to outpace the region up until 2038, according to local government reports. When this is combined with the issue of York’s slow planning process for new housing, you have the perfect recipe for what could be a bad housing shortage.

“This stands investors who have already bought in the city in good stead as there will be more acute demand from buyers and tenants,” Phillips says.

Phillips points to a number of reasons why York is such as great place to live, and while it may therefore be appealing for investors keen to place their money in a safe haven where demand and house prices are both on the rise.

Strong employment options in York

“Many decide to move to York and enjoy a slower pace of life. Whilst it is a lot calmer than major cities such as London and Manchester, it does not compromise on employment opportunities,” Phillips insists.

“In recent years, York has been one of the top-performing local authorities in England for employment growth. Prevalent industries include IT, bioscience and food and drink, and there is also an emerging creative scene.”

UK’s first ‘Gigabit City’

A potential reason for the sudden job growth and influx of creative tech companies is that York has become the UK’s first ‘Gigabit City’ due to its size and location.

An ‘Ultra Fibre Optic’ network has been installed and reaches speeds of up to 1 Gigabit, from which the city got its nickname.

“Having high-speed internet is considered vital in the modern workplace and extending it to residential areas is beneficial for the increasing number of people working from home,” Phillips explains. 

Independent cafes and restaurants

“From the infamous Betty’s Cafe Tea Rooms serving Swiss-inspired Yorkshire-made specialties, to The Star Inn The City which serves traditional Yorkshire specialties, there is something for everyone,” Phillips says.

She adds: “Like most cities, there is an increasing number of restaurants popping up catering to a vegan diet – one such example is El Piano. With a plethora of options, from quirky cafes to traditional fine dining, there is a restaurant in York to satisfy any palate.”

York’s cultural offerings

Phillips says that, from its theatres and comedy clubs to York Racecourse, there is always something to do.

The city has two main theatres and a couple of smaller ones, as well as York Barbican, an indoor entertainment venue hosting live music and comedy, the York Art Gallery, and a host of museums.

It’s also famous for York Minster, one of the finest cathedrals in the world, and its historic Roman city walls. What’s more, there’s the Shambles – a narrow, winding maze of streets with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. In normal times, it’s a tourist hotbed – partly because it was said to be one of the inspirations behind Diagon Alley in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling Harry Potter series of books. 

“York’s property market is performing well, with house prices in York rising 19.4% in the last five years – above the UK average of 18% – whilst rents have increased by 4.5%,” says One Touch Investment director, Arran Kerkvliet.

“Demand for property in York has increased by 28% over the last year which suggests that price rises will be sustained for the foreseeable future. If you were considering property investment in the UK, you don’t need to look further than York for the ideal fundamentals.”

He points to Gasworks as one possible investment opportunity in York. The new development aims to accommodate short-term stays as well as long-term residents, with on-site features including flexible workspaces, a gym and fitness studios, a coffee bar and deli, an edible garden and concierge service.

Investors – should you be looking north to the grand old city of York?

“It also aims to bring a new kind of lifestyle to York and could be an option for those looking to become part of a new community. Its edible garden means residents can grow their own organic vegetables, and personal trainers are on-site to ensure fitness goals are met,” Kerkvliet adds. 

“There is a large outdoor area for residents’ and non-residents’ use, and a cycle club and car club serve as a platform for residents to really cultivate a sense of community. Gasworks really has the amenities to enrich a person’s life, from forming new friendships to learning how to grow their own vegetables to having their bike repaired by the convenient on-site maintenance team.”

A range of apartments are on offer in the Gasworks, including studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments and duplexes.

“There is something to suit every budget, with studios starting from £199,500. As the development can accommodate short-stay residents which typically yields higher rents, a 7% return is contracted for two years,” Kerkvliet concludes. 

You can find out more about what One Touch Property Investment believes makes a good buy-to-let investment by reading its fundamentals of the UK buy-to-let market guide.

This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.