Spiraling demand for flats in Leeds city centre is being triggered by two new factors, according to one residential sales and letting specialist.
Linley & Simpson, based in Swinegate, said a surge of interest from overseas, coupled with an increase in rail fares, has led to a New Year spike in the number of properties being let and sold.
As many as 70 per cent of properties are being rented to mature and postgraduate students, professionals and families from abroad, said branch manager Lauren Kyle.
“It has been a stand-out theme for us in the last few months, but particularly since the start of the year,” she said.
“From our experience, people are choosing to relocate to Leeds city centre from abroad because of work or studies in record numbers.
“In one week alone, we helped people from as far away as Italy, Finland and Saudi Arabia move.
“We’ve even had people who have just stepped off the plane turning up at our offices with four suitcases looking for a new home in the city centre there and then.
“The hosting of the Tour de France was a great shop window for Leeds and the whole of Yorkshire last summer and did a lot to raise the profile worldwide of what we can offer as a place to work and live.
“And that, combined with the opening of Trinity Leeds adding to the city’s appeal as a top shopping and leisure destination, has translated into extra demand.
“Given an absence of new developments in the centre in recent years, there is a shortfall in supply that we need to redress – especially with a relaxation in both stamp duty and pension investment rules likely to spur on more buyers.”
Many tenants have also cited the recent increase in rail travel, combined with a desire to make the most of Leeds’ shops, restaurants and nightlife, behind their own New Year resolution to move much closer to their job.
Rail fare increases of an average 2.2 per cent kicked in at the start of January, pushing more commuters into the position of paying more and more to get to work.
Pressure group Campaign for Better Transport claims many commuters have seen season tickets prices rise by an inflation-busting 20 to 25 per cent in the last five years, and unions say high fares are making life increasingly difficult for many workers.
Lauren added: “Many are telling us ‘enough’s enough’, all of which is putting an increased premium on city centre homes which offer the possibility of an entirely free commute – other than shoe leather and effort, of course. S
“avings can run into thousands of Pounds a year.”
City centre prices rose by around 3.77 per cent last year, thanks to a return to the market of buy-to-let investors and young people being helped onto the property thanks to the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’.
A two-bed apartment in the centre would cost around £150,000 on average, while a similar property in the Leeds suburbs would be lower, about £125,000.
In terms of downsides those who choose to live in the city centre must, of course, be prepared to put up with a little noise and traffic congestion and can also forget about owning a pet or having a garden in many properties.
And, in common with many other cities, the best schools tend to be outside the centre.
“Ultimately, a city centre home is a lifestyle choice,” Lauren said. “There are people who just want to be close to everything – and the compact and thriving Leeds city centre offers them exactly what they want.”