Top 12 UK Property Markets for Investment in 2024: Insights for Savvy Investors

16 May 2024

In the face of fluctuating house prices and shifting market dynamics, it's never been more crucial to choose your properties carefully and conduct thorough market due diligence.

Luckily, we have already done this research for you.

How did we do it? We utilized insights from leading industry reports by CBRE, Knight Frank, PWC, and the latest research from Oxford Economics to identify resilient markets with the potential for sustained growth.

Over the last two decades, we have brought to market developments in over 45 cities across 18 countries. In 2024, our focus is on three countries, but predominantly, the UK. It has one of the largest GDPs in the world, strong population growth and house prices have risen 183% over the last 20 years due to a critical undersupply of homes. The UK is home to some of the best real estate investment cities in the world.

We choose our cities for their strong economic fundamentals, reputable developers, and low-risk profiles. And we’re happy to say the research has paid off -according to the latest House Price Index from Zoopla, we are active in 8 of the top 10 UK markets currently experiencing price growth, despite the general market volatility and declines elsewhere.

In 2024, the UK real estate market faces multiple challenges. Higher than typical interest rates, issues with affordability, and geopolitical tensions are the most notable factors across the country. However, individual cities pose their own additional challenges –but also, present opportunities.

We often receive inquiries about the best real estate investment cities where we are not currently investing. Given our research-driven approach, we think it's important to share our findings on the holistic UK market landscape to keep our investors well-informed to be able to make their own decisions, too.

This blog post details the 12 key markets in the UK and the popular real estate investment cities that investors are most curious about in 2024.

Sheffield Image

1. Sheffield: A City in Regeneration with a Housing Crunch

Sheffield's transformation from a post-industrial city to a vibrant, cosmopolitan hub offers a compelling investment case, particularly in the property sector. Since 1997 The labour government's economic initiatives, Sheffield has seen substantial regeneration, doubling its economy in size and attracting a diverse array of SMEs and new industries.

Sheffield has seen significant growth in sectors like finance, healthcare, and technology, ensuring a continuous influx of skilled workers. The city also has a reputation for strong educational prospects, particularly at the University of Sheffield, which ranks 13th in the UK (Times Higher Education World Rankings 2024). This demographic trend supports a strong rental market, especially as many graduates choose to remain in Sheffield. Investment in Sheffield’s property market therefore offers stable rental yields, making it a smart choice for property investors and one of the best real estate investment cities.

The ongoing demand for housing in Sheffield has been fuelled by a steady increase in population, currently estimated at over 568,960 residents. The existing housing supply is unable to meet the growing demand, evidenced by projections of an 11,328-unit shortfall by 2035. This imbalance is driving up property prices, making Sheffield particularly lucrative for investment in residential properties. The city's strategic phase of regeneration emphasizes private sector-led growth, further enhancing its appeal as a forward-thinking and economically expanding city.

Take a look at our properties in Sheffield.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, from Princes Street Gardens, with the Ross Fountain in the foreground

2. Edinburgh: Scottish Capital with Resilient Rental Growth

Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is celebrated for its rich cultural and historical significance, marked by its distinctive sandstone buildings and green spaces, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. The city plays a strong role in the UK's business and tourism sectors, bolstering a strong real estate market, driven by consistent population growth and robust economic performance.

The presence of global corporations (such as Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM) in Edinburgh have contributed to its attractiveness as a business centre and has supported a strong job market. Edinburgh’s working population has increased by 21% in the last 20 years - 3 times more than Scotland’s average, and is currently the second most populous city in Scotland. The population is expected to continue growing rapidly, and reach about 570,000 residents by 2035, a 27% increase since 2000.

Economically, Edinburgh has seen a significant increase, with its GDP expanding by 182% since 2000, reaching GBP33.1 billion in 2023. In the real estate sector, house prices have grown 49.3% since 2015, with a further increase of 17.6% projected between 2023 and 2027. Additionally, according to Zoopla, Edinburgh currently ranks in the top three UK markets experiencing price growth in 2024.

In early 2023 a rental cap was introduced in Edinburgh by the Scottish government due to spiralling rental price growth. But the policy has backfired and led to Edinburgh seeing some of the highest rental price growth across the UK. Given that rental increases were limited by the cap during tenancies, landlords responded by hiking rents as much as possible at the start of new tenancies. This resulted in the policy quickly being scrapped as of March 2024 and the market still remains one of the strongest in terms of rental opportunities.

The combination of a growing economy, a strong job market, and increasing property values establish Edinburgh as one of the best real estate investment cities for property investors in the UK.

Browse through our properties in Edinburgh.

Aerial footage of Salford Quays, Great Manchester during a sunset time.

3. Manchester: Population Boom Meets Housing Deficit

Greater Manchester (encompassing ten metropolitan boroughs, including Manchester City, Salford and Trafford) has a total population of approximately 2.79 million (2023), which is forecast to rise to 2.96 million by 2030. This places it as the second most populous urban area in the UK after London. 

Manchester’s position is solidified as a leading UK business hotspot and a top global city with a compelling case for property investment. It embodies a blend of strong, diverse career prospects, vibrant lifestyle, and leisure opportunities, as well as contemporary urban development. This is echoed in its accolades, recently ranked as the third-best city in the world by Time Out and listed as the UK’s Most Liveable City by The Economist in 2022. 

The city’s regeneration since the mid-1990s has propelled its growth, transforming it into one of the most dynamic economic centres in the UK. Global employers such as Google and HSBC have been attracted to the city, as well as the BBC in a motion to relocate the entertainment industry from London to Manchester’s MediaCityUK. 

Manchester is also regularly in the global spotlight due to sports and cultural activities such as football. It is home to two of the most famous football clubs in the world, Manchester United and Manchester City. Manchester United is the world’s 4th most valuable football club, regularly hosting sell-out crowds of 85,000+ at their Old Trafford stadium.

The educational institutions in Manchester contribute significantly to its economic growth due to a large student population (more than 100,000), many of whom remain in the city post-graduation to start their careers. The city makes a prestigious feature on the Top 50 Best Student Cities list (QS World University Rankings). This has created a thriving community of young professionals, continually refreshing the local talent pool and driving demand in the rental market

Manchester’s GDP has grown by 240% since 2000. It generates the largest UK economic output outside of London and is predicted to reach a GDP of GBP58.4 billion by 2035. This economic growth coupled with strong population growth have led to a rise in housing demand.

According to Savills, house prices in Manchester are expected to grow by 21.5% in the next five years. The city is forecast to be one of the best real estate investment cities in the UK, ideal for buy-to-let investors.

Explore our properties in Manchester.

Aerial view over the city center on a sunny day

4. Birmingham: Economic Powerhouse with an Acute Housing Need

Birmingham, known as the UK's Second City, has demonstrated significant economic growth, with a 121% increase in its economy since 2000 and an anticipated further growth of 60% by 2035. Despite this economic vitality, Birmingham faces a notable challenge: its housing stock has not kept pace with rapid demographic expansion, resulting in a projected undersupply of at least 26,000 units by 2031. This severe imbalance between housing demand and supply creates a ripe opportunity for property investment.

The city's appeal as an investment destination is further enhanced by substantial regeneration projects and infrastructural improvements, including the introduction of the HS2 high-speed railway. This line will dramatically reduce the travel time to London to 45 minutes, enhancing Birmingham's appeal to commuters and potentially increasing demand for residential properties. As house prices are expected to rise by 19% over the next five years, Birmingham presents a compelling value proposition for investors looking for areas with significant growth potential and current affordability.

View our selection of Birmingham properties.

York UK Lendal Bridge over river Ouse and boats in England United Kingdom

5. York: Knowledge-Driven Economy with Housing Challenges

York stands out as one of the best real estate investment cities due to its rich historical background, strategic economic growth, and educational prominence. It is one of the UK's oldest cities, with roots tracing back to Roman and Viking times, which adds considerable cultural value and attracts around 9 million tourists each year. This historical attraction is complemented by significant modern developments like the York Central regeneration project, one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK, which promises to transform underutilized areas into vibrant residential, commercial, and cultural districts. In terms of other growth prospects, York is set to elect its first-ever mayor in 2024, which could lead to enhanced local governance and the execution of strategic development initiatives, further bolstering York’s economic attractiveness as one of the best real estate investment cities in the UK.

York boasts a strong and dynamic economy, driven in part by its two major universities: the University of York and York St John University. With over 28,000 students annually, these institutions provide a steady stream of young talent and contribute to the local economy through research, innovation, and a skilled workforce. This strong foundation has fuelled impressive economic growth. Since 2000, York's economy has more than doubled in size, increasing by 112%. This positive trend is expected to continue, with projections indicating a further 89% growth by 2040. 

The population of York has grown steadily over the past decade and the city has faced challenges in meeting housing demands, building only an average of 299 new homes annually between 2011 and 2021 despite a need for 877 new homes per year. This scarcity in supply coupled with strong demand creates a favourable market for property investors, as house prices have grown by 29.2% from 2017 to 2022 and homes sell faster in the city than in nearby cities like Leeds, Liverpool, and Newcastle.

See what properties we have in York.

London Image

6. London: A Global Icon for Investment

London stands as a formidable economic powerhouse, sharing the exclusive Alpha++ city status only with New York City. As the wealthiest capital in Europe, London’s GDP reached GBP646 billion in 2023, accounting for nearly a quarter of the UK's total GDP. This economic vitality makes London a global hub for international businesses and investors, it also houses one of the world’s best startup ecosystems. The city is expected to continue to see significant economic growth, with a GDP projected to expand by 90% to GBP1.23 trillion by 2040.

With a population surpassing 9 million and expected to grow by 10% by 2048, and a housing market that suffers from a chronic undersupply —requiring 90,000 to 100,000 homes annually— the investment case for London property remains solid.

London's property market benefits from substantial international interest, particularly in prime central locations, where property sales for GBP5 million and above are reaching record highs. With forecasts predicting a 13.5% growth in central London property values over the next five years, and a continuous influx of highly educated talent, London’s real estate market offers a robust return on investment through capital appreciation, despite the high entry costs and lower rental yields compared to other regions.

In the rental sector, London exhibits persistent high demand. Rental prices have surged by 31% over the past two years, and occupancy rates in managed properties according to Complete Prime Residential’s portfolio stand at 99.9%. Looking forward, Savills forecasts a total rental price increase of 18.4% over the next four years. This demand is supported by the city's status as a global leader in education and the home of top-tier universities, which attract and retain a large student population and many young working professionals.

Explore our properties in London.

Tyne Bridge Newcastle

 

7. Newcastle: Growth in the Northeast

Newcastle has redefined itself as a center for finance, technology, and digital industries, housing over 50,000 businesses and becoming a beacon for knowledge-intensive sectors. This transformation has not only modernized the city's skyline but also created numerous investment opportunities in the property market. With a 38% increase in GVA since 2010 and a projection to generate GBP10.8 billion by 2030, the city's economy is on a robust upward trajectory.

The city's strategic initiatives, such as the Gigabit City project and the establishment of a major hub for the digital and creative industries, cement Newcastle’s position as a hub of innovation. These efforts are complemented by ambitious regeneration projects like the GBP350 million Newcastle Helix project, which aims to create thousands of jobs and inject substantial economic growth in the long run.

The property market mirrors this growth, having experienced a 30% increase in prices since 2010, with an anticipated further increase of 13.5% over the next five years yet still offering the fifth-best affordability ratio in England and Wales.

Despite numerous development projects, Newcastle faces a persistent housing undersupply, expecting a shortfall of at least 20,500 residential units by 2030, ensuring continued demand and investment opportunities. The demographic and educational landscape of Newcastle, bolstered by five major universities and a student population of over 100,000, also underscores a strong rental market.

With the property market supported by a growing economy, substantial population growth, and continuous regeneration, Newcastle presents a compelling case for property investment, promising solid returns on investment through capital appreciation and rental income.

Discover our properties in Newcastle.

Oxford Aerial View

8. Oxford: Home to the World’s Best Educated

Oxford is renowned for its prestigious university which consistently ranks first in the world and attracts a steady flow of international students and foreign capital. The city is also home to globally recognized art galleries, libraries, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and museums like the Ashmolean Museum, the oldest university museum in the UK.

Additionally, Oxford is a popular filming location for series like Harry Potter and hosts major cultural venues such as the New Theatre Oxford. Alongside its vibrant highly intelligent student community, it draw approximately 9 million visitors annually, who participate in a range of festivals and events.

Demographic and economic data underscore Oxford's appeal for property investment. The city is set to continue seeing steady population growth from 136,600 in 2000 to an expected 158,130 residents by 2035. One-third of Oxford’s population is born outside the UK -it attracts the best talent internationally- and thus has an unemployment rate of 3.3% (2022), lower than the national average. Oxfordshire's disposable household incomes have grown significantly as a reflection of its highly educated workforce, disposable household incomes have grown from GBP38,260 in 2000 to GBP67,840 in 2022, a 77% increase. Household incomes are forecast to continue growing at a rate of 53%, reaching an incredible GBP104,030 by 2035.

This economic vitality, combined with a solid educational sector and cultural richness, positions Oxford as an attractive city for long-term property investment. Oxford has seen house prices grow 68% over the past decade and increased 9.7% in 2022 alone. Future forecasts indicate that house prices may rise by another 26% over the next decade, surpassing the UK average.

Take a look at our Oxford properties.

Leeds Image

9. Leeds: Northern Market with Promise

Leeds, distinguished as one of the UK's top places to live and work in 2023, presents a compelling case for property investment with its property prices averaging 16% below the national UK average. As England's second-largest Financial Industries hub, the city has experienced the fastest rate of private-sector job growth of any UK city, supporting a booming economy and a vibrant, youthful demographic. The city's advantageous location in the northern region of Yorkshire enhances its connectivity and appeal, attracting a skilled workforce and a student population from its four major universities, which in turn drives a strong rental market.

The housing market in Leeds is marked by a significant supply-demand imbalance, with only 27% of the city's housing needs met in recent years. This shortfall has resulted in a 71% increase in house prices over the last decade according to Oxford Economics, a trend expected to continue with an additional 21% rise projected by 2026. Despite ongoing regeneration efforts and economic growth—reflected in a GDP increase of 146% since 2000—this under-supply has perpetuated high demand for both rental and purchase properties, making Leeds a prime location for property investment.

Leeds not only thrives as a financial and legal powerhouse but is also emerging as a center for innovation and business, particularly in the technology and digital sectors. The city's regeneration projects are enhancing its urban appeal, with developments aimed at modernizing transport and increasing residential and commercial space. This growth is complemented by Leeds' status as a highly educated city with a large student and graduate population, further bolstering the rental market. As such, property investors can find significant opportunities in Leeds, with projections of continued economic expansion and property value appreciation.

High rise apartment building reflected in the Leeds Liverpool canal

10. Liverpool: Cultural Hub with Growth Potential

Liverpool stands out not just for its iconic cultural heritage as the birthplace of The Beatles but also for its dynamic urban transformation. The city has attracted significant investment through major regeneration initiatives like Liverpool Waters and the Knowledge Quarter, aiming to rejuvenate its waterfront and urban core. These projects are transforming Liverpool into a nexus for education and innovation, pulling in new businesses and boosting residential development. Coupled with persistent housing undersupply, these factors create ripe investment opportunities, promising both capital appreciation and robust rental demand.

Financially, Liverpool remains an appealing market due to its relative affordability compared to other major UK cities. As of 2023, the average sale price for apartments was GBP137,950, markedly lower than the London average of GBP596,625. This affordability is a significant draw for investors, allowing for quicker portfolio expansion. The city's population has been steadily growing, supported by its economic expansion and the influx of over 50,000 students across four universities, maintaining a high demand for housing. This ongoing growth is not keeping pace with new construction, indicating a sustained opportunity for investment in the housing sector.

The rental market in Liverpool is particularly strong, supported by a significant student population and an increasing number of young professionals moving to the city for its thriving digital and creative industries. Rental yields have been impressive, with IP Global’s properties in the city seeing returns as high as 7%. This robust rental market, when combined with Liverpool's economic resilience and the cultural appeal of a city known as a UK leader in digital and creative sectors, makes it an ideal location for property investors looking for steady, reliable returns.

Aerial photo of Belfast Cityscape Northern Ireland

11. Belfast: Leading Northern Ireland's Market

Belfast property prices are rising the fastest in the UK in 2024, primarily due to a significant increase in Northern Ireland as a whole, with a 4.3% growth in house prices. This growth contrasts with many other regions where house prices have either fallen or grown at a much slower pace. This growth is underpinned by strong economic fundamentals. Belfast’s economy has seen impressive growth, growing by 46% since 2000 and projected to increase a further 33% by 2040. In tandem, the population has also increased by 33% since 2000, with an additional 11% expected by 2040. This population increase creates steady demand for housing, putting upward pressure on prices.

Recent price corrections have improved affordability in the Belfast and Northern Ireland’s property market, attracting new buyers and contributing to a more robust property sector (Zoopla). This enhances the overall investment proposition.

Wide angle view of the Finnieston Crane and SSE Hydro arena, Clyde Arc on the banks of the River Clyde. Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Europe.

12. Glasgow: Scottish Growth Continues

Glasgow stands out as Scotland's largest city and a significant economic hub, contributing approximately 14% to Scottish GDP with an impressive output of GBP30 billion in 2023. The city houses 28% of all Scottish companies and provides a third of the country's jobs, making it a pivotal area for economic activity and job creation in Scotland. Particularly notable is Glasgow’s status as the top UK Core City for producing graduates in Financial and Business Services, many of whom stay in the city, thereby strengthening the local financial sector. This retention of skilled graduates fuels a demand for housing, supporting a robust property market.

The Glasgow Metropolitan Area is anticipated to see substantial population growth, expected to increase by 175,000 over the next 15 years, aligning its growth rate with global cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. This demographic expansion is set to drive demand in both the housing and rental markets, making Glasgow an increasingly attractive location for property investors. The city's economic forecast is equally promising, with GDP expected to nearly double to GBP 58.7 billion by 2040, indicating sustained economic growth and investment potential.

In terms of real estate, Glasgow's property market is on a strong upward trajectory, with property prices expected to rise by 14.2% and rental prices by 15.3% over the next five years. This growth in property value, coupled with the city’s economic and demographic trends, presents a compelling case for property investment in Glasgow. Investors can anticipate robust returns driven by a growing population, a booming economy, and a vibrant financial sector, positioning Glasgow as a premier choice for property investment in Scotland.

Conclusion: Strategic Investment in a Dynamic Market

The UK property market's landscape is marked by regional disparities, with notable growth in the North and challenges in the South. Factors such as economic expansion, housing undersupply, and population growth form the backbone of the investment case for the highlighted markets. For investors, these dynamics underscore the importance of selecting markets with strong fundamentals and future growth potential. Partnering with a knowledgeable investment firm like IP Global, equipped with comprehensive market research and a strategic approach, can guide investors towards making informed decisions in these promising UK property markets.

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