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The latest figures from Rightmove indicate that property prices in the North West have risen by £4,089 in the last month, as reported by Place North West today. Perhaps as house prices are rising and bankers have now got their bonuses back, we’re finally starting to say goodbye to the, dare I say it, recession? Let’s hope so!
The property market is rather like the curate’s egg at present – good in parts and not in others. While plummeting land values have made deals at best sluggish, small and medium sized developers are snapping up ‘distressed’ sites and seeing prices rally if not recover.
Here in the North West, we’ve always enjoyed a buoyant regional property market. The region offers a myriad of highly sought-after addresses, from Chester in the West to the Peak District in the East, the shores of Lake Windermere in the North to the ‘golden triangle’ of Alderley Edge/Prestbury/Wilmslow in the South.
This being the case it makes sense to suppose that property values here will always hold up over the long term. The question on everyone’s lips is: can they recover to the all-time highs of 2006 ?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Even in a speculative market, the key is the differential rather than the absolute value of your property. Provided you can make enough profit on your sale to secure the house you want to purchase, the numbers involved are irrelevant.
In a buyer’s market, there’s plenty of room for negotiation and a ‘sliding scale’ of sale/purchase prices – provided your vendor is not in negative equity to start with.
There’s a lot to be said, therefore, for buying a new property from a reputable developer. Not only are you likely to get a better deal overall, you will save on the inevitable remedial works involved with buying ‘second-hand’ and are likely to benefit from lower energy bills due to more efficient and environmentally friendly heating, water and insulation systems. In a perfect world, you may even be able to sell via the developer’s part-exchange deal which will not only save you money and fix your costs, it’ll give you a moving date to work towards.
In the current climate, that’s a win-win.
Following a few days away in London this weekend (2 hours 10 mins on the pendolino makes us virtually neighbours) I found myself back in Manchester on Sunday afternoon enjoying a pleasant stroll through the city centre. As I walked from Piccadilly train station, still looking fantastic since the 2002 refurb, to the almost-completed St Peter’s Square Metrolink stop, I congratulated myself on having had the good fortune of being born and brought up in this amazing city.
As exciting and vibrant London is, I am always pleased to get back home to Manchester, and its somewhat more comfortable, less frenzied atmosphere. In recent years that pleasure has only grown as the city has undergone its transformation, starting at the bottom end of Deansgate and flowing wonderfully from Castlefields through to the Northern Quarter and now Ancoats.
Along with the explosion of trendy bars, independent shops and contemporary apartments (FYI – still looking for a two-bedroom with parking near to Piccadilly Basin), has also come a new found respect for the gaps development leaves behind – open space. The “public realm” as it is referred to, has gone from being that-bit-next-to-the-building, left over for the council to look after, to an important part of the planning and design.
Last week I was one of those property professionals invited to the Insider Business Breakfast event at the recently completed 1 New York Street (or the swanky new office block on Mosley Street as you might know it) to hear from Bruntwood CEO Chris Oglesby and 1 New York street’s architect Steve Quinlan, from Denton Corker Marshall.
For both, the public area around this expression in glass and concrete is almost as important as the internal design. Both too agreed Manchester’s public spaces – from Piccadilly Gardens to Albert Square – have set the bar high for urban planners hoping to combine functional thoroughfares with enjoyable areas for people to meet and rest.
So London, fun as it was, you can keep your Trafalgar Square and its pigeons, and I’ll leave Leicester Square to the crowds. I’ll trade you for the cozy canal-side basins of the Bridgewater, the Triangle’s windmills and plasma screen, the architect designed wind-trap that is Spinningfields, and even the melee of Market Street, and say roll on the Christmas markets and drinking hot chocolate in the street.
Tasked with writing a fairly technical case study this week, I began to wonder how on earth this was possible before the advent of the Internet. Fortunately for me, I began my career in PR just as the Internet had started to become ‘the must have’ business tool. At my finger tips I’ve always had access to more information than I could possibly ever need and within seconds of typing a confusing three letter, technical acronym into a well-known Search Engine, its meaning no longer had me stumped. Just how much we rely on the Internet was brought home to us here at BPN yesterday when our Internet service went down due to a fault with our ISP. Panic was in the air as colleagues quickly realised that without the Internet they simply couldn’t do their jobs. In fact many fled the building in a hurry so that they could carry on working online at home! How on earth did we cope before it was invented?