Agent Insight: Stuart Eustace of Knight Frank in Birmingham
This week we turn our focus to the West Midlands, where Stuart Eustace of Knight Frank in Birmingham gives us the lowdown on the local property market.
Is Birmingham an attractive place to purchase and invest in property?
Birmingham is a great place to invest in property at the moment. This year will see the completion of New Street station and the extension of the Midland Metro system, both of which will make the city much better connected. Additionally, the new 250,000 sq ft John Lewis will open its doors, meaning Birmingham will be the only city outside of London to have a John Lewis, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. These improvements, as well as the ongoing city centre regeneration and ever-increasing investment from national and global companies, means demand for property in Birmingham city centre (and the suburbs) is on the rise.
In fact, a recent report from PwC and the Urban Land Institute revealed that Birmingham is now the UK’s most attractive city for investment, jumping 14 places in the index over the past 12 months, while London has dropped five places.
Which property types are particularly popular at the moment?
We’re beginning to see a real trend in people looking to purchase more niche properties, in particular loft-style conversions at developments like Concord House and Rifle Maker Lofts. While interest from investors remains strong, over the past 12 months we’ve seen a rise in owner-occupiers looking to purchase properties in the city centre, many of whom are after larger, more spacious apartments.
Which are the most popular places to buy a home in and around the city?
The first port of call for people looking to purchase outside of the city centre tends to be the immediate suburbs of Harborne and Edgbaston, largely due to their close proximity to the city and their local amenities – such as some of the city’s best schools, sports facilities and Michelin star restaurants. Moseley and Kings Heath follow close behind as desirable places to live, while those looking further afield tend to choose between Sutton Coldfield and Solihull.
Within the city centre itself, the Jewellery Quarter remains a hot spot. Areas like Eastside, however, are being considered by an increasing number of purchasers and investors, largely thanks to the local education offering (including Aston University and Birmingham City University) and the Curzon Street masterplan which includes the planned HS2 station. For example, Nikal’s Lighthouse scheme, which is located in Eastside, sold all of its new apartments from plan just four weeks after it was launched to the public.
What are the current market trends in Birmingham?
There remains a significant lack of supply of quality housing stock in Birmingham, and with the increasing demand for new homes (thanks to the good news stories in the national press and international recommendations for the city as a place to invest) this will remain the case for at least the next 12 months.
What do you expect to see happen in the local market this year?
Housing supply will continue to dwindle (particularly in the city centre). Towards the end of 2015, however, we may potentially start to see some of the larger developments that were due to be progressed in the last property cycle start to come forward.