For the last few years, property news has been centred in London, with the capital being the centre of domestic and international investment for the UK. But it’s the northern city of Manchester that is now capturing the attention of investors, making it one of the best places to buy property in the UK.
Manchester is the centre of the Northern Powerhouse project spearheaded by former Chancellor George Osborne. This project has attracted enormous media attention and has also brought investment from all corners of the globe. This, in turn, has driven up transactions, prices and rental values across the entire North West – with the biggest increases focused in the city of Manchester.
A Hometrack cities report found that house price growth in 20 of the UK’s major cities is at an average of 5.1% – far lower than the 8.8% increase reported in May last year, but still a strong rate of growth, nevertheless. Manchester is way out in front of the current average, with an average of 6.8% when compared with this time a year ago. The home of the Industrial Revolution has shrugged off political and economic instability to remain a strong prospect for buyers.
Manchester has plenty going for it. Major investment that started after the IRA bomb in 1996 has seen the city centre undergo an enormous revamp, with brand new shopping centres and beautiful old buildings given a new lease of life. The trendy Northern Quarter, the quirky Ancoats area and the upmarket Spinningfields are all relatively new developments, and a sign of what Manchester has to offer.
The BBC also chose Manchester as its satellite HQ, and the enormous Media City complex is just minutes away from the city centre on the new and improved MetroLink tram network. Manchester Airport has also been expanding, with £1bn of investment going in to create a ‘Super Terminal’ at the north’s busiest airport. The new theatrical venue HOME, the annual Manchester International Festival, and of course Manchester’s wealth of music and art history make it a top cultural hub, not just for the North West, but for the entire UK.
With three universities and a plethora of other smaller colleges and learning institutes, Manchester’s student population is huge – and many of the graduates remain in the city after they graduate as young professionals, meaning the rental market is almost unparalleled. Demand currently outstrips supply, and many experts predict that rental prices will continue to rise. House prices, by contrast, remain fairly affordable – certainly more affordable than London, where the saturation of the property market has rendered it unable to compete the growth of other smaller cities.