York Real Estate: Navigating History for Future Returns

By Grant ReynoldsDirector
19 Jan 2024

Having wandered through the storied streets of York, I was amazed at a city that breathes history, from its Roman origins as "Eboracum" in AD 71 to weathering Viking invasions, earning it the name "Jorvik". York's narrative intertwines with significant historical events, playing roles in the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War, and the 19th-century railway revolution.

Today, York stands as a living museum, where every cobblestone and ancient structure tells a tale. Owning property here isn't merely a transaction; it's a connection to centuries of tradition, a tangible piece of the city's vibrant history.

Morning golden light on the historic old town of York along Museum St. looking towards York Minster Cathedral.

Having recently explored the enchanting town of York, I was captivated by its title as the "UK's Most Romantic Destination," a well-deserved accolade given the seamless blend of historical charm and modern accessibility that defines this heart-warming city at the centre of England. This makes York a perfect canvas for short-term rentals, tapping into a thriving market where property owners often achieve impressive yields of 5% to 10% or higher.

Making my way past the city walls into the city center, I come across the astonishing York Minster which encapsulates the city’s beauty. The accolades bestowed upon York as a top cultural hub, winning titles like "Best UK City" for history and heritage, are well-deserved. Iconic landmarks such as York Minster, the Jorvik Viking Centre, and the National Railway Museum contribute to a rich cultural tapestry, allowing residents to immerse themselves in a vibrant cultural life right outside their doorstep.

York, UK - Traditional shops on the famous and ancient narrow medieval street, the Shambles.

A surge of life is coursing through York's cobblestones, propelled by a transformative regeneration project dubbed one of the UK's most ambitious. Anticipating a population boom from 141,700 to 224,000-232,000 by 2032, the city's forward-thinking local plan aims to bolster housing supply with a minimum of 17,795 new homes by 2033.

However, translating aspiration into bricks and mortar has proven challenging. York averaged a meager 299 new homes annually between 2011 and 2021. So, in 2018, the city set a daring goal: 877 new homes a year, a near triple leap from its previous decade's average. Failure to bridge this gap – currently projected at 3,497 homes by 2031 – could fuel price hikes and present fantastic opportunities for astute investors.

Supported by a substantial injection of government investment totaling £132 million, York is ready for this transformative era. This funding not only contributes to the city's overall progression but also introduces over 1 million sq ft of high-quality office, retail, and leisure spaces, expected to generate 6,500 high-value jobs and provide a significant boost to the local economy.

Driving York's dynamic growth are six key sectors—finance, real estate, biotechnology, digital/IT, rail, and tourism/hospitality. These sectors significantly contribute to the city's economy, reflecting a diverse and thriving urban landscape.

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

The York housing market presents a unique opportunity for investors. The persistent shortage of supply has created a dynamic environment, exerting upward pressure on both house prices and rental rates. Over the period from 2017 to 2022, the market witnessed an impressive 29.2% surge in average property prices, showcasing its resilience and potential for substantial returns. The high demand and fast-paced transactions also indicate a vibrant market with opportunities for investors to capitalize on the competitive landscape, making it an attractive prospect for those seeking profitable real estate ventures.

Looking ahead, Oxford Economics forecasts a robust property market in York, anticipating a 12% growth between 2024 and 2027, outperforming many markets expected to experience more modest growth. This optimistic outlook positions York as an appealing choice for those seeking capital growth and robust returns in the property market.

The rental market in York also forecasts a continued upward trend in rents. Various areas, including student-centric neighborhoods like Heslington and Fulford, professional zones like the city center, Heslington, and Holgate, along with family-friendly regions like Acomb and Bishopthorpe, offer enticing opportunities for potential buy-to-let investors.

As I reflect on my visit to York, it's evident that this historic city is not only a treasure trove of the past but a thriving and evolving urban center ready to embrace growth, innovation, and economic prosperity in the years to come.

Written by Grant Reynolds


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