If you’re buying property, whether for investment or yourself, it’s frequently a good idea to look to buy in what’s often described as an up and coming area.
There can be real benefits to buying in up and coming areas. These kinds of areas usually have much cheaper property than places that are the finished article – that are already the most desirable areas of town.
Better still, as the area improves there is a good chance that prices there will rise above the level of general price rises in the wider area. And so provide you with a good profit or even just increased equity in your property.
Property in up and coming areas may be more lettable (if you’re letting) and more saleable in future if and when you decide to sell.
What exactly is an up and coming area? Up and coming areas are often thought of as areas that are improving. And that, as a result, areas that are becoming more attractive as a place to live. Ideally an up and coming area is also an area where, increasingly, more people are wanting to buy or rent than there are properties for sale or to let.
There are many examples, in most areas, of locations that have been up and coming areas. In London for example areas like Brixton, Clapham and Hackney were once considered up and coming areas but are now well established as sought after residential districts.
Anyone who bought a house in then-up and coming Hackney in 1996 would have seen it increase in value by around 700% by 2016 – while prices in other more established areas of London saw rises of ‘only’ 450-500%.
Up and coming areas are perhaps more relevant now than ever before. Recent fast-rising prices have meant that even more areas are unaffordable to the majority of buyers, and especially first time buyers. So the race is very much on to spot the next round of up and coming areas.
The catch of course is trying to spot the next ones. So exactly how do you spot an up and coming area?
It used to be said that the arrival of certain types of upmarket shops could be used to point out a newly up and coming area.
It always used to be said that the ‘Waitrose effect’ indicated an up and coming area.
The Waitrose snobbery/property price index
Now apparently budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl indicate an area on the rise too!
Incredible property value increase by living near Aldi, Lidl, Asda or Morrisons revealed
There are some other, visible signs of up and coming areas which might be something of a guide. For example, it’s sometimes said that areas with lot of new, upmarket cars are a clue.
The ‘skip test’ can also help to show areas where there are a lot of renovations or extensions going on. This tends to show locations where people are confident enough in house values to spend money on them, and/or have equity in their property to fund it.
While of some use these approaches to finding up and coming areas are, perhaps, a bit old fashioned and a bit theoretical.
So what might be some better ways of spotting up and coming property areas that are based on more factual evidence than shop openings and skips? (And, hopefully, techniques that can help you spot these areas before they have upped and come too far and prices have started to rise too much.)
You might monitor price trend data, as well as rent trend data. Look for districts where prices and/or rents are nudging above the underlying level of prices and rents in the wider area. That tends to suggest that more people are looking to buy or rent there.
* HM Land Registry have a search tool allowing you to check price trends by local authority area: Check UK property price trends
*Home.co.uk offer a variety of useful information to help gauge whether a location is sought after or not. As well as price and rent data they can tell you how many properties are on the sales (and rental) market and how long they have been on the market in any given area.
* There are a number of commercial/paid for tools which can drill down deeper and get price and rent data (and other useful information) for local areas. For example Property Data
You might monitor the volume of searches for property to buy or to rent in a particular area and look for trends suggesting they are increasing. Again that suggests that more people are looking to buy or rent there.
In many ways, search data is an even better pointer towards possible up and coming areas. It can give you the heads up on these locations before prices and rents have started to rise too much.
* Portals like Zoopla and Rightmove publish periodic info. on the most searched-for areas based on their own search volumes to give you a general idea. Apparently this year Cornwall has replaced London as the most searched for place to live.
* You can use Google Trends to get a handle on how popular particular property markets are with buyers and tenants. Do a Google Trends search for ‘buy house Placename’ or ‘rent house Placename’.
For those more adept at using data there are commercial search engine optimisation or SEO tools that can help you understand what and where house buyers and tenants are looking for too.
PropCast is a tool which measures buyer demand levels to help predict how quickly (or slowly) it will take to sell a property – and by implication how sought after certain areas are.
At the end of the day when you’re looking to buy or invest in a property an up and coming area is a sought after thing. They are also a very illusive phenomenon which can be tricky to tie down. They are however something that, over the years, have proved to be a reliable way for householders and investors to win in the housing market and so can be well worth hunting down.