News: Forget London: West is best!

Mon, 28 Jan 08

Property bargains in the South-West are going begging, reports Assetz...

With so many investors in recent years looking at investing in property in London and its surrounding commuter towns, or in the booming cities of the north and midlands where blocks of apartments have been appearing by the score, the south-west may perhaps have gained a little less attention than it should.

This, at least, is the view of the Southwest Property Network, which represents a range of property firms involved in the region. While the West Country is well known as a holiday destination and popular with second homes, there is more to it than that, according to spokesman Rob McCabe.

He said: "There are a lot of opportunities in the south-west and a diverse selection of properties. You can get a cottage in the countryside or a waterfront apartment. It's a popular place to be."

Excellent transport links

The appeal, he noted, was not just to the old and retiring either: "The south-west has good train links for people who work, which is important. There is a growing community of new companies opening and expanding across the south-west, particularly in Bristol.

With economic expansion may come jobs, but for those looking at investing in buy-to-let it may be worth noting that the kind of people who come down to the west country, according to Mr McCabe, are also there for the lifestyle.

He said: "It's not only the property - and you can still buy a reasonably priced property here, but it's the way of life which is the attraction," pointing to countryside, forests and beaches as one aspect and noting that the most common demographic is young families where the parents are in their 30s. Thus to serve this market investors should be looking at family homes.

Mr McCabe described Bristol as one place with lots of variety, varying from £149,000 houses to £800,000 penthouses, while Exeter has also "rocketed ahead".

Huge net migration

Recent figures from Halifax showed that a number of places had seen prices rise substantially above the national average last year. Bath, for example, saw prices increase by 17 per cent to leave the average house price in the Georgian City at £313,558, the Bath Chronicle reports. But this was at the upper end of the range - only Truro on Cornwall had higher prices - and the average for the region is much less at £211,404.

Nor was Bath's inflation rate the highest. That title was also taken by a Cornish location, with St Austell seeing 26 per cent inflation. But investors here could again get good value, since the situation in the town may have a lot to do with the building of 52 new apartments at the Sandy Hill development and the rejuvenation of the town centre, homemove.co.uk reported.

Perhaps the most important Halifax statistics came from a different survey, however. This showed last month that the south-west saw the greatest net migration (441,000) of any English region. Investors may just find there is something good which is making so many people go west.

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