News: Migrant increase fuels BTL boom

Wed, 14 Nov 07

All around the country the increased number of immigrants has boosted buy-to-let...

Mention Great Yarmouth to people in the eastern half of England and most will mention the Norfolk seaside resort with its Victorian traditions and perhaps, in keeping with other resorts, a suggestion that it has seen better days. Read the news recently and the headlines would have focused on the storm surges and the threat to the town from possible sea flooding.

This latter threat did not materialise, but the proximity to the sea which the resort enjoys in summer and endures in bad weather has another element. The town has seen a new harbour development which, like so many harbours around the country (not least those no longer operating as ports), has been a major focal point of new investment.

But while London's Docklands, Salford Quays and Glasgow Harbour are examples of major urban renewal, the Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour development is different. While some replace ships with plush flats, shopping centres, offices and bars, Great Yarmouth is getting more ships as the port is developed.

Eastern European influx

As Chris Fielding, manager of local estate agents Charles Bycroft & Co has pointed out, this has had a positive influence, stating: "It's been noticeable that investment people have been looking at Great Yarmouth as a growing area with the Outer Harbour Scheme being put into practice."

Mr Fielding noted that the growth of the town as a port, as well as an "improving" tourist sector, were both factors likely to help boost buy-to-let and also local employment. The issue of jobs has, in this case, meant plenty being available for immigrants to the town from Eastern Europe and Portugal.

He stated that as a consequence buy-to-let was "fairly strong" in the area, especially the town centre, as the new European population has "made that part of the town their own in some ways", creating "quite an investment market" as a result.

Great Yarmouth's experience is not unique. All around the country the increased number of immigrants, particularly those in Britain on a short-term basis, has boosted buy-to-let. Mortgage Trust reported this week that this segment of the market is growing swiftly, stating that 28 per cent of landlords let out property to immigrants in September this year, compared with 4.6 per cent in the equivalent month in 2006, reports IFA online.

Rising rents

Nor are immigrants just providing a supply of tenants; their presence is one of the factors helping to raise rents, with increased numbers of overseas tenants, alongside students and professionals, causing this trend, Mortgage Trust's managing director John Heron told the website.

He said: "Buy-to-let will be underpinned by strong tenant demand over the medium to long-term. Indeed, this factor has already contributed to a seven per cent increase in rents over the past year."

Thus while some places will see growth because of the creative re-use of their docklands and Great Yarmouth will benefit from the extension of its own harbour for conventional purposes, it is the demographics of those filling the rented accommodation, in docklands or elsewhere, which is driving rents upwards.

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