The north generally should be an attractive proposition for investors. Low prices mean low investment costs but, more importantly, prospects for good yields. But it’s also important to invest in northern locations where there is strong demand and prospects for capital appreciation in future. Leeds fits the bill on all of those counts.
Here are some facts intending investors will find it useful to know about Leeds, West Yorkshire:
1. Leeds is one of the largest cities in the UK, after Birmingham and Manchester, with a population of 750,000. The Leeds City Region is one of the largest urban areas in the UK with a population of over 3m.
2. In common with much of the rest of the UK the population here is growing quickly, leading to increasing demand for housing. Figures from the Office for National Statistics predict Leeds’ population will increase by a fifth by 2035.
3. Leeds has the biggest economy in the Yorkshire & Humberside region by far. Figures from the Leeds Observatory says that the city economy is worth around £21bn and forecasts it will grow by 12.4% over the next five years.
4. Most of Yorkshire & Humberside’s executive and professional employment opportunities are based in or around Leeds, making it the region’s largest centre for commuting. The economy was traditionally based on heavy industry but financial and professional services, digital and information services, precision manufacturing, health and innovation, and food and drink are now key areas for employment.
The city is also a major centre for retail employment, with a second new upscale shopping centre – Victoria Gate – having recently opened.
5. Leeds is the second largest economy (the first being Manchester) within the so-called Northern Powerhouse – a project to combine the separate economies of the north of England.
6. In common with many areas outside the south east jobs growth in Leeds has been slow over the last decade – employment levels in 2014 were similar to those in 2004.
However, the local Strategic Economic Plan aims, agreed with the government in 2014, aims to create 62,000 additional jobs here by 2021.
7. The Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone located to the east of the city centre is one of the largest regeneration areas in the country. It is forecast 9,500 jobs will be created here over the next few years. When the area is fully developed it could support additional 40,000 jobs.
8. In common with many other parts of the country there’s a significant housing shortage across Leeds, with insufficient social and private housing to satisfy current demand. Leeds City Council’s latest Development Plan says that at least 66,000 new homes will be needed over the next 15 years to satisfy demand. Currently new house building levels are falling far short of that target.
9. Demand for student accommodation is an important factor in the property markets of most cities. Leeds is a major university city. There are around 60,000 students studying at three large universities here including the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University. There are also around 6,000 overseas students arriving to study each year at the University of Leeds alone.
Leeds is popular with students from the south of England who are attracted, in part, by housing and living costs that are substantially lower than the south.
10. Yorkshire and Humberside generally is one of the cheapest places in the country to invest in property. Prices here are well behind both London and the national average. Property prices vary very considerably across the city however. The cheapest property in Leeds currently listed on Zoopla is £35,000, while the most expensive is £1.1m.
11. In common with property prices, rents in Leeds are also lower than the national average. The current average monthly rent across the UK (excluding London) is around £800 pcm. In Yorkshire and Humber the current average monthly rent is around 20% less at £640.
12. Property prices across both Yorkshire & Humberside are currently rising around 5% a year according to the Land Registry and Leeds prices rose 5.7% over the year. So prospects for modest capital appreciation are still good.
If you are interested in investing in property in Leeds you might find this guide useful: Where To Invest In Leeds.
If you are interested in investing in other towns and cities in West Yorkshire you may find this report interesting: Where To Invest In West Yorkshire.