Property investment: 20 best places to make money outside London
You’ve got a cathedral, cobbled streets and lovely, Georgian-style Lemon Street. You can go sailing on the Fal and Helford estuaries, or drive a little farther to the beaches of north Cornwall (Newquay, Perranporth). Even better news is that current house prices are low. “Prices still reflect those of 2006,” says Duncan Ley, director of Chesterton Humberts, Truro. “Which suggests there is room for further growth. You can buy a three-bedroom Victorian terrace for £250,000. In the past six months, there has been a sudden increase in property developments, with more in the pipeline.”
For sale: a new but authentically old-looking, five-bedroom home at the Belvedere development, within walking distance of the city centre, for £475,000 (01872 278288; chestertonhumberts.com)
North Oxford, Oxfordshire
Living north of Oxford has always meant a much longer commute into London. Now, however, Chiltern Railways is building a new station, Oxford Parkway (opening summer 2015 with 800 parking spaces), which will cut the journey to the capital down to an hour. “Prices will rocket,” predicts Glyn Buckley, director of Winkworth in Oxford. New homes are already being built: a 22-apartment gated Waterside development (prices £165,000-249,000) is also being built at Kidlington, 10 minutes away from the station (Property Frontiers, 01865 202700; propertyfrontiers.com).
For sale: a traditional, four-bedroom house in Summertown, in need of updating, for £1.25m, five minutes from the new Oxford Parkway Station (01865 809237; winkworth.co.uk)
Once upon a time, living near a football ground only meant that you couldn’t park outside your house on a Saturday afternoon. Now, however, the Halifax says that average house prices in the streets near Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium have risen by 150 per cent in a decade. The second-biggest increase has been around Hull City’s ground (123 per cent), with Chelsea coming third at 121 per cent. Note that these are all Premier League grounds – the effect is not so marked at Accrington Stanley.
For sale: three-bedroom, end-of-terrace house in Ravensbury Street, £84,950 (0161 224 7435, kaye-mackenzie.co.uk)
You don’t have to look into a crystal ball to predict price rises in this part of Essex; just look at the advancing Crossrail diggers. By 2018, you will be able to travel to central London in 40 minutes, and to Heathrow in 72 minutes. “In my view, Crossrail will increase the value of properties within a mile of Shenfield Station by 10 to 15 per cent,” says Stephen White, of Savills in Chelmsford. “Essex is quite an insular county, but this could be the catalyst for people to move here because of the accessibility Crossrail will provide to the West End.”
For sale: Grade II-listed, handsome, four-bedroom detached home, with 0.79-acre garden (01277 212111; beresfordsgroup.co.uk)
This Somerset town is at the tipping point between town and country, and at the centre of the work-life balance. Houses here aren’t nearly as expensive as in Bath, yet there is lovely countryside and a wealth of pretty villages. There is also an abundance of good private schools (Millfield, Sherborne, plus Bruton Boys and Bruton Girls) and it has just got a new art gallery (Hauser and Wirth). Trains from Castle Cary take 90 minutes to London Paddington: a long journey every day, but better if you only make the trip to town twice a week.
For sale: Grade-II listed, seven-bedroom, five-bathroom family home, £3.95m (020 7629 7282; struttandparker.com)
This leafy corner of Surrey is becoming something of a mustering point for families fleeing suburban London’s high prices. The fact is, that over the past five years, prices in Reigate have risen by just eight per cent, compared with 22 per cent in nearby Esher. “Roughly 50 per cent of our buyers now come from south-west London. It was 35 per cent this time last year,” says David Reynolds, of Savills in Reigate. “Some are selling two-bed flats in London and buying family houses here for the same value.”
For sale: half of a huge Victorian home, just outside the town centre, £975,000 (01737 230200; savills.co.uk)
It’s roads that will increase house prices here. Not only is the last bit of the A11 being turned into dual carriageway (due to open this autumn), but there’s serious talk of a bypass around the north of the city. “Prices at the bottom of the market, which largely consists of terraced houses, have climbed 15 per cent in 12 months,” says Nigel Steele, a partner at Jackson-Stops & Staff. “This is likely to ripple out across the entire market over the next 12-24 months.”
For sale: traditional, two-bedroom terraced house in Unthank Road, £210,000 (01603 760044; williamhbrown.co.uk)
Richmond, North Yorkshire
It’s not quite as well known as its namesake on the River Thames, but this town (pictured below) has a lot going for it – notably the Yorkshire Dales. It has rising house prices, too, since it was announced that the Army garrison at Catterick was to be expanded, with its population reaching 25,000 by the year 2020. You don’t need to be a master tactician to realise this will mean more jobs and a growing economy. Zoopla reports that the average asking price is £196,238, 4.64 per cent up on the previous year.
For sale: High Bank House, a 17th-century, Grade II-listed home, with seven acres of grounds and views over Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, £475,000 (01969 600120; gscgrays.co.uk)
There’s nothing fashionable about Biggleswade, or the county in which it sits (Bedfordshire). However, a new Center Parcs resort in Woburn is predicted to pump £20m a year into the local economy. According to Zoopla, prices have already risen by 12.79 per cent in 12 months, and new places are going up at the King’s Reach development (2,100 properties in the next six years). Trains take just 42 minutes to reach Kings Cross.
For sale: properties at 650-home Penrose Park, where prices start from £239,950 for a three-bed home and £299,950 for a four-bedroom detached house (01306 730822; martingranthomes.co.uk)
You hear the phrase “Mind The Gap” on the London Underground, but it’s equally relevant in the property market. More capital-dwellers are seeing the discrepancy grow between the size of place they can afford in the city and the size of property within a 40 to 50-minute commute (or 54 minutes in the case of Winchester). “We’re seeing rising numbers of professionals looking to take advantage of the lower prices,” explains Hampshire buying agent Charles Birtles. “They are not looking for a complete lifestyle change, or to downsize; they just want to commute to London.”
For sale: four-bed detached house in Olivers Battery Road, 1.8 miles from city centre, £925,000 (01962 706 385; hamptons.co.uk)
Prices of country houses have increased here by 7.4 per cent in a year, but there’s further to go, says Edward Rook, of Knight Frank. “New improvements will only increase the town’s desirability,” he predicts. “These include an enormous Marks and Spencer, a recently rebuilt and modernised Waitrose, plus new parking schemes.” And although it’s only 23 minutes on the train to London, new-build homes cost about £500 per square foot, a 10th of the price in London Bridge, where the railway terminates.
For sale: six-bedroom Victorian family home at 12 Vine Court Road, £1.895m (01732 744477; knightfrank.co.uk)
No one in property is upset with Crossrail; not only will it get commuters to town quicker, it’s also going to make house prices go up faster, too. “The reason why Henley will grow in popularity is due to the number of buyers looking at the options Crossrail will bring,” says Nicholas Brown, of Knight Frank’s Henley office. “The new line will enable buyers to look from as far as Cookham and Marlow in the east, to Pangbourne and Goring in the west.”
For sale: seven-bedroom, five-bathroom stately home with 14 acres, tennis court and swimming pool, £4.95m (01491 844900; knightfrank.co.uk)
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Over the past six years, property prices have quietly crept upwards here, rising 21.85 per cent since 2008. One thing no recession can take away from Verulamium (the Roman name for St Albans) is its proximity to Londinium (17 miles). You’ve got steady buyer demand, good schools and a saint-to-saint train journey (that’s Albans to Pancras) that takes as little as 18 minutes in rush hour.
For sale: four years ago, three-bedroom 20 Churchill Road (one mile from the station) cost £750,000, but today it’s on the market for £1.1m (01727 840285; struttandparker.com)
Carry out a roll call in this attractive little suburb of Newcastle (metro station, lots of bars and restaurants), and you’ll unearth a wall-to-wall student population. The original owners have long ago left the handsome, three-storey villas that adorn this part of the city, and are renting them out instead to undergraduates at the two universities (Newcastle and Northumbria). Rents rise at a rate well above average. Terraced houses start at £300,000 and rise swiftly. The challenge is to beat off competition when a place comes up for sale.
For sale: five-bedroom terraced home, built 1903-10, £599,950 (0191 213 0033; sandersonyoung.co.uk)
Further education is the engine of change here. Since being given full university status in 2005, the number of student applications per year has risen from 5,000 to 13,000. Some £150m has been spent building new libraries, laboratories and halls of residence, and the uni-boom has been felt throughout the city. These improvements have encouraged new shops, businesses and houses. “We could forecast a 10 per cent increase in property values in the next two or three years, in response to this comprehensive building programme,” says Will Kerton, of Knight Frank.
For sale: Corley Villa is an attractive, five-bedroom, detached period home with a walled garden, £499,000 (01905 723438; knightfrank.co.uk)
Yes, Crossrail is busy working its property magic to the west of London, too, with prices rising by eight to 10 per cent in the past year and a half. “Already we are seeing investors attracted by the new rail route,” adds Darren Hunt, senior branch manager of Carson & Co estate agents. “When the route opens in December 2019, residents will be able to get to Bond Street in 41 minutes and Liverpool Street in 48 minutes. At present, it’s 24 minutes to reach Paddington, but then people need to change onto the Tube.” And parents are keen to find out more about Holyport College, a free school opening in September and sponsored by nearby Eton College.
For sale: Shanly Homes (01494 671331; shanlyhomes.com) is building new homes at Bolters Meadow and Cedars Road (£300,000 for a two-bed flat, up to £615,000 for a four-bed house)
Bosham, West Sussex
Exclusivity always helps push up prices, and that’s why people are paying more and more to live on the water’s edge at Bosham, in West Sussex. “There are no more new plots for sale, so the properties that do become available are highly sought after,” explains Mark Astley, director of Jackson-Stops & Staff, in Chichester. “In 1990, you could buy a four to five-bedroom detached house on Shore Road for under £450,000. By 1996, its value had increased to £1.1m. Now, similar houses would be worth more than £4m.” What’s more, Bosham isn’t as well known as Sandbanks, near Poole, which means there’s potential for prices to rise even further.
For sale: a three-bedroom yachtsman’s cottage at Bosham Hoe, £850,000 (01243 786316; jackson-stops.co.uk)
Living near a motor racing circuit sounds a bit noisy, but this part of Northamptonshire is set to go into overdrive. It has been announced that MEPC (owned by the BT pension scheme) has taken out a 999-year lease on the Silverstone Industrial estate, where it will create “a global destination for engineering, innovation and business development”. And where are all those engineers, innovators and business leaders going to live? In new homes being built as we speak.
For sale: four and five-bedroom homes at The Elms, a top-of-the-range development, prices from £495,000 to £720,000 (01525 290641; jackson-stops.co.uk)
Electrification of the railway line from London Paddington is on the way, initially just to Bristol Parkway (outskirts), and then to Bristol Temple Meads (town centre). The exact starting date is not yet known (probably 2017), but the journey time to and from the capital will definitely be cut from 100 to 80 minutes. “Bristol doesn’t attract as many buyers looking to commute to London as Bath does, but the shorter rail journey will change this,” says James Toogood, head of the Bristol office of Knight Frank. “This will provide a significant boost to the market and send prices up by between five and 10 per cent above market trends.”
For sale: five-bedroom, Grade II-listed town house with views over Christchurch Green, £2m (0117 317 1999; knightfrank.co.uk)
Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA
It’s not just the university that attracts the best brains, there’s also the Cambridge Science Park, to the north of the city. There are 100 companies working there. And while some towns build a property boom on the back of just a new branch of Waitrose, the Science Park is going to have its own, brand-new £26m railway station as from next year. According to the website Rightmove, houses in Cambridge spend the shortest time on the market of any location in Britain: just 27 days, against the national average of 65. In the past year alone, prices rose by 20 per cent, to an average £419,000. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that they will keep on rising.
For sale: Four-bedroom home designed by architect Syd Furness, offers over £1m (020 7704 3504; themodernhouse.net)
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