Stockport has taken second spot on the back of impressive capital gains and rental growth, just ahead of Manchester in third place.
The fortunes of these two areas are very much intertwined – it’s precisely because Manchester is thriving to such a degree that growth is being driven in neighbouring postcodes, with Stockport just one example.
This is a pattern we are seeing elsewhere too. Leeds is ranked 12th, with Harrogate just down the road also taking a spot inside the top 20.
These areas offer investors impressive yields, while the ever-improving transport links between them make them more attractive to tenants.
The performance of these northern cities is not going unnoticed either.
A report from IP Global earlier this year pinpointed these locations as representing some of the top global targets for property investors, ranking the likes of Manchester and Leeds alongside Bangkok, Lisbon and Berlin.
The rise of central England
Another region that has enjoyed an eye-catching performance has been central England. Birmingham has figured in the top ten for three consecutive indices now, and its appeal is well recognised by investors.
In this year’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate report from PwC and the Urban Land Institute, Birmingham is ranked as the second best prospect for investors in the UK behind only Manchester.
As the report states: “Less dependent upon financial occupiers and foreign capital, these second-tier cities are now reckoned to offer interesting opportunities at better value than ‘over-priced’ London.”
Wolverhampton is seventh, just behind Coventry, with both cities seeing significant capital gains of 6.36% and 4.47% respectively.
Peterborough has caught the eye too, taking eighth place, having performed strongly on yield, capital gains and rental price growth.
Don’t ignore the south
Nonetheless, it is a southern city that regains top spot this quarter, with Colchester – a consistent presence in the top three – ranking highest.
While the rate of capital gains has slowed in Colchester, it is the swift increase in rental price growth that has pushed it to the top, with landlords there seeing rents jump by 6.5%.
It’s worth noting how many other southern cities pop up towards the top end of the index, despite the improving fortunes of northern cities.
In the top 10 alone we see Canterbury (5th), Enfield (9th) and Luton (10th), alongside Colchester.
Indeed, some of the most impressive rental price increases have been seen in the south.
In Enfield for example rents have jumped by 4.25%, while Cambridge has seen a 3.86% rise and Romford has enjoyed rent increases of 3.53%.
Pinpointing the areas where rent has room to grow is so crucial for investors, but it’s much easier said than done.
The prospects are good though, with the Association for Residential Letting Agents (ARLA PropertyMark) reporting in September that year-on-year almost a third of tenants (31%) have seen their rents rise, compared to 27% a year ago.
The Budget was mercifully short on yet more changes for landlords to get to grips with.
The market has undergone quite enough fundamental realignments in recent years, so a little more breathing space is certainly welcome.
While there remains the great unknown of Brexit, the truth is that even with the improving levels of housebuilding, the demand for rental accommodation will persist.