SOYO increases the investment potential around Victoria Gate, Leeds

Leeds’ newest district SOYO, or SOuth of YOrk road, will be the city’s new cultural district. The attention of property investors has been drawn to this area of Leeds city centre, as the area has undergone vast redevelopment with the construction of Leeds’ newest luxury shopping centre Victoria Gate, the home of John Lewis. The district will be built adjacent to West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds College of Music, BBC studios, Northern Ballet Head Quarters and is set to become a key development in the regeneration of Leeds City Centre.

Leeds’ New Cultural Quarter

The SOYO proposal includes 106,000sq ft of offices, 35,000sq ft leisure, in excess of 700 residential units, a multi-storey car park, 7,500sq ft retail facilities, a medical centre and a series of vibrant public squares. This type of redevelopment is contributing to long-term economic growth in this area of the city centre and is essential for property investors to be aware of when considering capital growth potential of the property.

West Yorkshire Playhouse

The West Yorkshire Playhouse, which opened in 1990 is set to have a £14 million facelift. Redevelopment will include a brand-new entrance, studio and improvements to the buildings interiors for the thousands of visitors they host every year to enjoy. The Playhouse is a big pull for tourists for the city and was shortlisted for a top tourism award in the Arts & Culture category as part of the prestigious Welcome To Yorkshire White Rose Awards.

Transport

The city’s transport system is well positioned for access in and out of the SOYO district. Tenants will have a 6-minute walk to the bus station and 10-minute walk to the train station. Generally, Leeds is one of the most well-connected cities in the UK with exceptional rail, air and road links. London is just two hours away by train and one hour by air. Major roadways including the A1, M1 and M62 are in the vicinity, bringing drivers right into the city centre.

Infrastructure Investment

Within the immediate vicinity of the development is the completed Victoria Gate, a new £165 million luxury shopping centre which is also home to the largest John Lewis store outside of London. The true value of Victoria Gate has been revealed as it is expected to attract over £82.5m of inward investment to Yorkshire during its first 10 years. It’s no surprise then that the economy of Leeds ‘grew faster’ than London since Northern Powerhouse was launched back in 2014.

Investment into the Education Sector

A key growth area for development in Leeds is in the education sector. The city is already served by three universities and has the fourth biggest population of students in the UK. The crane survey recorded four new starts in 2017 adding over half a million sq. ft into the development pipeline. This included Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus and developments at both the University of Leeds and Leeds College of Building.

From Students to Young Professionals

Rental potential and longer-term capital growth is strong as more graduates are staying in the city to work in its growing financial, technology, professional services sectors. Three major universities support a thriving student population who are encouraged to stay in the region by more affordable house prices than in the South East ensuring high rental demand and healthy yields for landlords. House price growth in Leeds was at the highest in the UK, with average growth of 5.7% in 2017.

Financial Quarter

Leeds is the second largest financial city after London and has an economy worth £64.6 billion. There are over 30 national and international banks in the city, with First Direct and Yorkshire Bank basing their headquarters there. The city is seeking to establish itself as a strong Northern centre for financial services. A report from law firm Irwin Mitchell said Leeds has expanded its financial sector substantially in recent years, with the city’s total output from finance and insurance increasing by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2015.

Five things to help direct your property investment strategy in 2018

Investor appetite for buy-to-let property didn’t diminish after Brexit and the latest UK House Price Index report from The Office for National Statistics stated that average house prices in the UK increased by 4.5% in the year to October 2017. So what should property investors in the UK and abroad be thinking about in 2018?

Location: The North West will remain a strong spot for investors

Manchester was one of the buy-to-let hotspots of 2017 and the rapid growth in jobs and population saw investors and developers clamouring for real estate in the city. Liverpool sits slightly behind Manchester in terms of popularity but the huge student population and £5 billion redevelopment of the city’s waterfront means the city is almost keeping up with its neighbour.

However, Manchester and to a lesser extent Liverpool, have become less affordable for some investors who are starting to turn their attention to Yorkshire, Nottingham and the smaller growing outside of London.

London loses its appeal in 2018

After a long period of rising house prices across London and chronic undersupply, investors have been priced out of the market and renters are struggling to pay for less space. In London, tenants are paying £100 per sq. m. compared to around 15 sq. m. for the same price in Bradford.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have suggested that house prices in London and the south-east will fall in 2018 and the UK is set to outperform London in house price growth over next five years says JLL UK Residential.

Smaller regional areas get greater attention

Some of the UK’s smaller cities and towns may be less well-known to international investors but if they exhibit the classic market drivers of: an increasing population; expanding and growing job market; and new large-scale infrastructure projects, investors should be considering these places as viable options for buy-to-let investment.

With lower entry price points than cities like Manchester which are growing fiercely, combined with the promise of catch-up growth because of government programmes like the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine, these lesser known cities are good investment options in 2018.

Interest rates will stay low

The Guardian reported that another 0.25% hike is expected in the first half of the year, taking the Bank of England base rate to 0.75%, although that is likely to be the only increase in the year.

For those with a mortgage, that will add £22 to the typical £175,000 tracker mortgage, but with more than half of all borrowers on fixed rates, it will probably go unnoticed by most homeowners and will only marginally affect portfolio property investors.

Housebuilding to increase

The need for new homes has been recognised and has moved up the government’s agenda over the last year with the publication of the government’s housing white paper. Back in November, the UK Prime Minster Theresa May promised to take “personal charge” of solving the housing crisis.

As a result, new home building in the UK has picked up with 217,000 homes coming on to the market in 2016-17, up 20% on the year before. But that only brings the total back to levels seen before the financial crash, and a long way short of the 300,000 target set by the government. The supply side of the housing equation will be less pressing than in previous years.