Why is the Manchester property market so exciting right now?
There has certainly been a shift of the market; from the focus being solely on central London to Manchester, where returns are often better for investors and prices are cheaper. I see a lot of growth in Manchester over the next 10 years.
How have you seen Manchester change in recent years?
Manchester has undergone a lot of redevelopment and regeneration, with a lot of money spent on new projects and new infrastructure.
Is there a balance in supply and demand in Manchester?
The demand is certainly there for new properties in Manchester, while the supply is not. In the UK more widely, we have a chronic housing shortage. Between 200,000 and 250,000 dwellings are required annually. At the moment as a country, we are supplying 135,000 to 155,000 units a year, so we are tens of thousands of units short annually. And that has been going on for the last ten years, so obviously the demand is strong.
The change in focus to Manchester and its regeneration projects means a number of people want to find themselves in the city and a number who have grown up outside it want to move in. There are jobs there and there’s new stuff being built all the time so there is plenty to do and that is attracting more and more people.
What projects have you worked on in Manchester and have they met with success?
We have a project in Heywood, a 15-minute drive north of Manchester. It went really well. The project completed in October 2016 and was fully let before Christmas. It was a vacant office space that was converted, which is similar to Park Rise which we are working on with IP Global.
Can you tell me a little more about Park Rise and what makes the property so appealing?
For Park Rise it’s really the location, which is ideal, overlooking a park in a really nice part of the city. There’s a tram stop that’s a three-minute walk down the road and from there you are in Deansgate in five minutes, or Piccadilly Gardens within 11 minutes.
The property is also an office conversion. We are focusing very much at the moment on office to residential conversions. Frankly, over the last ten years in the UK, we’ve had too much office space built and the market has shifted from having people at desks to more and more people working remotely or from home. With technology moving forward we’ve got an oversupply of offices. For Mandale we’ve probably got 700 units in the pipeline for the next ten months that are office conversions.
This area of Manchester is appealing not only because of this shift from office to residential, with a lot of vacant space being converted, but there’s a large redevelopment project underway nearby called Trafford Waters which is a GBP1 billion development to include new flats, a hotel, a new primary school and nearly one million square feet of retail and office space. It will be like a new town centre and is due to be built within the next five years.
What demographic do you see Trafford appealing to?
In Trafford, apartment rents are slightly cheaper than the traditional city centre but the location is still excellent. It’s an area that is and will be very popular with young professionals and young couples and families who want good value and great connectivity to key employment hubs.
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