The UK property market is clearly strongest in northern regions


The UK appears to be undergoing a process of rebalancing. In other words, it is in the process of being a country in which “all roads lead to London” and becoming one in which economic strength is more or less equal throughout the UK.

Over the long term, this has obvious benefits for everyone. Over the short term, it means that southern areas, particularly London, are likely to spend some time essentially treading water, while northern areas move forwards.

Here, Indlu, Manchester Estate Agents share their view of the visible signs of the strength of local property markets.

London and the south are stagnating

Both the volume and value of sales are down throughout the southern counties. In the interest of fairness (and kindness), it has to be mentioned that London in particular has encouraged (relatively) extensive home-building programmes over recent years and also worked to improve its commuter links, thus effectively creating new commuter destinations and encouraging home-building in these areas.

Increased supply does help to put downward pressure on sales prices, which might be a factor in the lack of price inflation, (although it is hard to see how it could possibly account for all of it), but by the same token, it should also increase sales volumes and that does not appear to be happening.

Admittedly, it would appear reasonable to suppose that Brexit is acting as a brake on activity in the southern regions, again, especially London, but here too it’s questionable whether or not it can reasonably be classed as the only factor slowing the local markets.

The hard fact of the matter is that affordability is stretched almost to breaking point, which is why increasing numbers of millennial professionals are abandoning London and heading to the northern regions.

Manchester continues to grow, but it’s not the top northern market

Over the last five years (basically since the start of the Northern Powerhouse initiative), Manchester has transformed itself from a place to be pitied into one of the most desirable cities in the UK (if not the world) and is now not only retaining its own young people, but also pulling in young people from other parts of the UK (especially London) and even further afield.

It has supported this population growth through significant home-building programmes (making use of brown field rather than compromising its public spaces) thus maintaining affordability.

As such Manchester has essentially made itself a case study in how to manage growth in a healthy and sustainable way.

Manchester’s growth has helped to stimulate the economy of the northern regions as a whole and as a result it is now facing stiff competition from its own neighbours, especially Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle.

All of which are showing strong growth (Liverpool actually saw the strongest price growth in the whole of England) and even “outliers” such as Blackpool and Whitby, which may not be the most obvious location for property investment but which have very attractive property prices, especially for major seaside towns.

They are also benefitting from the growing awareness of the sustainability issues caused by having short breaks overseas, which is leading to increasing numbers of people in the UK choosing to have their main holidays abroad but their short breaks at home.