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Regional report

Belfast property image

STATS – Average sale price: £45,800 Average fee for sales: £900 Average sales asking price reduction: 5% Average lettings fee: £250 Number of sales and lettings viewings: 114 Number of sales and tenancies agreed: 15

Belfast

The growth of the private rented sector in Northern Ireland continues at a steady pace. Market dynamics vary across the province but with almost a third of the population of Northern Ireland concentrated around Belfast, there is unquestionably a shortage of housing in the capital.

Robert McDowell image

Robert McDowell is a Director at Rea Estates in Belfast.

The Rea Estates office is situated in the north of the city, a working class area with small red brick terraced houses, built to accommodate shipbuilders at the famous Harland & Wolff shipyard and the workers from Belfast’s once burgeoning linen mills. While the economic fortunes have changed, there is still a strong sense of community that has created a micro market in which long term renting provides the backdrop for the lifecycle of the family – as families mature, expand, and see their children move on to their own properties, the housing need increases.

Belfast has been one of the slowest markets in the UK to recover from the crash, perhaps due to the astronomical property boom that preceded it; for one period during the boom Belfast had higher average property value to average salary ratios than London! The upshot is that Belfast has become a very attractive option for investors and the opportunity is catching the eye of many investors from the mainland UK. In the 10 years to 2011, the private rented sector grew from 7.6 per cent to 16.5 per cent, according to local Government figures. With investment from new landlords, the private rented sector is bringing refurbished high quality stock into the market to bridge the expanding gulf between owner-occupied homes and social housing.

The average sale price of our investment properties this month is £45,800, producing a typical gross yield of 10 per cent. This has impacted the sector positively, by stimulating investment. Recent projections expect the private rented sector to grow from 16.5 per cent of property market share to 30 per cent within the next 15 years. This is encouraging long term investment, with landlords now investing for immediate rental yield rather than capital gains.

With 20 years of experience providing award-winning services to a wide range of clients, Rea Estates is highly specialised in all aspects of letting, rental management and sales. Regulated by ARLA, the firm is committed to delivering the highest quality of services, upholding the high standards set by this professional body and all staff members are dedicated to providing open, honest and accurate advice to meet individual needs.

Accredited, experienced and honest we provide investors and landlords with reliable advice to make informed decisions.

North West London property image

STATS – Average sale price: £750,000 Average fee for sales: 1.5% Average lettings fee: 7% Average lettings fee + full management: 12% Number of sales and lettings viewings: 520

Kensal Rise, North West London

We are the London borough of Brent’s largest independent estate agents with four branches and the Kensal Rise office is a key part of our network.

Tony Bunce image

Tony Bunce is the Branch Partner at Daniels in Kensal Rise, North West London.

I have grown up and lived in the area all my life and the changes to it have been remarkable. Up until around 10 years ago parts of Kensal Rise were seen, often unfairly, as no go areas. But that perception has totally changed and it has become a real hot spot over the past few years due to the areas which surround it. Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Maida Vale have become a magnet for affluent buyers looking to get a property within easy reach of west and central London.

With average sale prices of around £750,000 it seems bizarre to say that Kensal Rise offers better value than these other areas but it does. Two bedroom flats are in particular demand as young couples, often working in the media, look to snap up their first homes. Finance never seems to be a problem and we tend to see very large deposits from buyers. The local primary schools have a very good reputation and you can jump on a bus and be in central London in just under 15 minutes.

In terms of the more recent market, we saw a three per cent rise in prices over the months of August to October, caused primarily by a real stock shortage in early summer, but there are now more properties coming onto the market. Commercially, the area is unrecognisable to the one I grew up in. Boutiques, independent coffee shops and restaurants are the dominant businesses and as you would expect there are several estate agents.

Kensal Rise is a unique place as it has still kept a sense of community spirit despite big changes. The Kensal Rise Residents Association is very active and there is a strong campaign currently fighting to make buses which run through the area more environmentally friendly.

Our office’s involvement in supporting community events is really important. We are big supporters of the campaign which saved the local library from permanent closure and the Mayhew Animal Home.

Investors who are not seeing strong enough rental returns in Kensal Rise are turning their attention to nearby Harlesden, Neasden and Stonebridge. But I would still predict another strong year for the property market in Kensal Rise in 2016.

Brian Clover image

STATS – Average sale price: £373,105 Average fee for sales: 1.27% Number of sales viewings: 342 Number of sales agreed: 19 Average lettings fee: 6.5% Number lettings viewings: 131 Number of tenancies agreed: 11

Chelmsford, Essex

With 26 years’ experience in the Chelmsford market under my belt, I am still amazed at what a vibrant and buzzing city we operate in.

Brian Clover image

Brian Clover is the Associate Director of Balgores in Chelmsford, Essex.

After gaining city status in 2012 and then being voted in the top ten places to live for quality of life in 2013, Chelmsford is one now of the most popular places to live in the South East of England.

With the city constantly expending, new businesses are moving into the area including retail giants, such as John Lewis and Waitrose, and with excellent commuter links into London it is hard to see things slowing down any time soon.

The city’s dynamic is truly multicultural, but still retains much of its original county town charm in many of the surrounding districts. In addition, Chelmsford enjoys some of the best schools in Essex, including New Hall, King Edward VI Grammar School and Chelmsford County High School for Girls.

The micro market in Chelmsford just keeps growing with the average property price increasing by up to 12 per cent in the last 12 months and demand far outstripping supply on both the sales and letting sides of the business.

The number of sales is up from September last year with the average property price having increased from £301,657 to £324,860 year-on-year. Viewing numbers are also growing and I can only foresee this improving further in the near future.

The lettings business has also seen substantial growth with a sharp rise in the number of agreed lets over the past year, while we’ve also seen a healthy increase in our management fees, with landlords appreciating quality of service more than ever.

With the prospects for Chelmsford looking rosier than ever and with further expansions and development planned including a long awaited second railway station in the north of the city, Chelmsford’s reputation and popularity will only continue to increase and the property market with it.

I predict that our business will go from strength to strength over the next 12 months and we are already recruiting and adding to our superb team to take advantage of the huge potential within our market place and see Chelmsford continuing to be an exciting and enjoyable place to operate in.

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