The North-South Property Divide
It’s official. This is the first time in eight years where property prices in the south have dipped, while those in the north have increased. I was asked by Talk Radio the other week to comment on this very subject and while they are known to be fairly forthright in their views, they just had to take a backseat on this occasion and listen to the way that the property market has taken on a new wave of positivity and a very different path. Is the secret of Yorkshire and the north finally out the bag?
There are a few key drivers as to why this is occurring and I am in the fortunate position of having a footing in both the Yorkshire and London markets. From my perspective, there is a significant movement towards better work-lifestyle balances, with much greater focus on the importance of family time. With life getting increasingly frenetic, people are becoming more aware of the impact that hectic lifestyles have on our mental health. This has translated through to the workplace where employees and indeed employers want a more flexible working structure. Gone are the days of all employees needing to be in the office five days a week. With the rise of technology and better transport links, this has opened up Yorkshire and the north to a new type of house buyer – those relocating from London and the south. After all, the train service is so good out of Kings Cross, that when I travel down, I can often beat those living in Wiltshire back home.
With HS2 potentially on the cards too, this will open up the lines of communication northbound even more. People are craving fresh air, green spaces, less overcrowding and are recognising that they can find all these things in the north. With the likes of Channel 4 moving to Leeds alongside Google and HMRC, plus of course the BBC now based in Salford, many onlookers are buoyed by the fact that these sizeable corporations with their large teams of employees are prepared to make the bold move out of London. So other companies and individuals are following on the back of it. As a result, large swathes of northern England, from Manchester and Liverpool, over to Leeds, Harrogate, York and indeed Hull, have seen a new demand from buyers who are relocating. This has pushed prices and market confidence upwards.
Companies also benefit, as there is no need to pay for someone’s desk space in London and they can shift to more flexible hot-desk working. This in turn lowers their fixed overheads and is better for their clients. Everyone wins. Equally what has helped is the media coverage of Yorkshire from the Tour de France/Yorkshire and the UCI Cycling Championships in September, plus being consistently quoted as one of the happiest places to live in the UK. Huddersfield Town were in the premiership and Leeds United are on the verge of taking their place. These again draw people to the region. Can you name another county which has such coverage or indeed such an identifiable brand?
The old adage of selling your two-bed flat in London and then buying up large swathes of Yorkshire has largely bitten the dust. Yes of course there is more value to be had beyond London, however when prices in some London boroughs have dropped by as much as 25%, many people in the city are questioning their reasons for being based there, especially if they can get better value and quality of life elsewhere. With the working and employment practices inexorably on the path towards fundamental change, a new dynamic in the property sector, which until now has been underground, is emerging. Yorkshire and the north are destined to play a huge part in it. Alex Goldstein is an independent bespoke property consultant in Yorkshire and London (www.alexgoldstein.co.uk) 01423 788377