The recent slowdown in the UK’s property market has been well documented. It’s also common knowledge that it’s the upper end of the market, particularly that of London and the South East, that has most felt the impact of buyer restraint. To a large extent, a pause is healthy after soaring prices pushed property prices to the brink of, and often beyond, affordability.
A sentiment of economic uncertainty resulting from the Brexit process has also weighed. The current situation does, however, leave landlords looking for investment properties, particularly those focused on the higher end of the market, having to think a little harder on locations that might provide the best returns.
The good news is that while London’s prime property market may be going through a stagnant patch, there are other areas where million pound properties are flying off the shelf. The most notable million-pound property hotspot is currently the university town of Cambridge. Local estate agents are reporting average selling times of just 45 days for properties with price tags of £1 million+. It’s not just the city’s prime property which is seeing ‘unprecedented demand’, according to local property company Cheffins. Martin Walshe, who works for the company, says that prices are showing strong growth and sales periods falling across all property price brackets.
A booming economy which has grown up around the university’s academic prowess, proving especially attractive to the tech and biotech industries, is a major factor, as is tight supply of housing stock. Microsoft, Huawei and Samsung are some of the high profile employers in the Cambridge area, which is also now well known as a ‘biotech cluster’. Well paid employment opportunities are abundant for the highly skilled. The town is also home to a growing population of London commuters.
The presence of top universities and commutability can also be seen as dominant qualities in the other property hotspots in the UK where properties in the £1 million+ bracket are currently selling fastest. Edinburgh is the UK town in which it is next easiest to sell a prime property with average selling periods 53 days. Harpenden has the same record, followed by Bristol and St. Albans with average selling periods of 54 and 60 days respectively.
The pattern should highlight investors to the fact that investment properties in the vicinity of elite universities in towns with strong transport links are a strong bet. Outside of London, employers targeting a well-paid, highly skilled work force congregate around good universities, taking advantage of the steady stream of top graduates.