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Birmingham’s Big Comeback

A bullish property market ahead for Birmingham (Img source: BirminghamLive)

Birmingham was once called ‘the first manufacturing town in the world’ and was the strategic heart of manufacturing Britain in the 20th century.

The rise of the city in the immediate years after World War 2 led to fears at the top that it was becoming too powerful at the expense of the rest of the country. The government moved some 200 industrial firms and projects out of the region to other parts of the country ‘with labour to spare’.

The move dealt a devastating blow to the Brummie economy, and the once-great city fell into a steep decline in the 1970s. 200,000 jobs were lost and unemployment rose from zero to close to 20%.

In just a couple of decades, Birmingham transformed from the manufacturing powerhouse of a fast-growing Britain to a symbol of failure.

Today, however, paints a very different picture.

All Eyes on Birmingham

The city is currently enjoying a burst of economic success, owing its change in fortune to a pro-development attitude by the Labour-run council and a well-judged government decision to press ahead with important transport infrastructure.

Birmingham’s Big City Plan, announced in 2010, sets out a development masterplan that  aims to expand the city core by 25%. This will add £2.1bn yearly to the city’s economy.

As part of the plan, £4bn in transport improvements have been announced to transform road and rail links in the city. Birmingham is the first stop on the High Speed Rail (HS2) coming from London, which will put the city’s more than 1.1 million people within under an hour’s journey of the capital, when it is ready in 2026.

As it is, Birmingham is the most popular destination for people moving from London. More than 6,000 people left London for Birmingham last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and it looks like the HS2 will continue to inspire this exodus in the coming years. The second, third and fourth most popular destinations were all within 80km of London.

Birmingham is the most popular destination for people moving from London (Img: BBC)

Businesses are also relocating from London to Birmingham. HSBC’s new head office for its retail and business lending operation, is due to open in July 2018. The bank’s move brings with it more than 1,000 of its existing London staff, and will employ some 2,000 people when it opens.

Deutsche Bank has also expanded its operations in Birmingham, with a total of 1,500 employees in front and back office capacities.

Property Market Outlook for Birmingham

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The average house in Birmingham costs £162,701, more than four and a half times London’s average at £743,930. Office rents in Birmingham are about a third of those in the capital.

Little wonder, then, that many Londoners and businesses operating in the capital are choosing to move to Birmingham.

Nevertheless, as with other parts of Britain, the supply of housing in this Brummie city hasn’t quite kept pace with demand, charting a potential shortfall of some 30,000 homes.

The deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward said: “Our expanding population means that we need to provide around 80,000 new homes by 2031 and our urban area does not have enough space. If we don’t explore other options we will have a shortfall of 30,000 homes.”

Supply of land is scarce and constrained by the greenbelt, which is a legally protected green area surrounding the city, and not allowed to be used for development.

With the shortfall in housing, rental demand is growing due to an ever-increasing affordability gap for the city’s young population trying to get on the ladder.

JLL predicts an increase in build-to-rent housing with a shift of focus from price towards quality and location. They forecast prime values to hit £500 p.s.f. by 2020 with performance being strongest in the city centre.

Compared to London, Birmingham is still currently 60% cheaper for a new-build project, suggesting significant upside potential.

Investors can look at new-build apartments like Arden Gate in the city centre as a great option for investment. This development has an attractive location, being only a few minutes’ walk from the central transport hub of New Street Station, which has just undergone a £600m renovation. It is close to entertainment and shopping centres and major businesses, including the HSBC head office.

In a 2017 survey, PwC ranked Birmingham as the highest performing UK city, ahead of Manchester, Edinburgh and London.

Regional chairman of PwC in the Midlands, Matt Hammond said, “This may be, in part, due to the big improvements in the city’s infrastructure, including the continuing development of HS2, the extended tram lines and the halo effect created by the redevelopment of New Street Station and the opening of Grand Central.”

Real estate consultancy Knight Frank predicts 19.7% rental growth by 2021, and 23.5% house price growth by 2022, further building investors’ confidence that Birmingham is a high growth market with a promising potential for high returns.

What are your thoughts about the city of Birmingham? Drop us a comment below. If you are interested in Birmingham’s investment potential for high returns, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia), or email us at info@csiprop.com!

By Ian Choong

Sources:

  • https://www.ft.com/content/26c293dc-fe12-11e4-8efb-00144feabdc0
  • https://www.ft.com/content/d6c58242-b280-11e7-a398-73d59db9e399
  • https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/birmingham-finally-bouncing-back-after-8772639
  • https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/business/birmingham-among-top-cities-job-14435552
  • http://www.birminghamupdates.com/birmingham-remains-britains-leading-regional-city-for-start-up-creation/
  • http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2013-10-11/plans-for-51-000-homes-near-birmingham
  • PwC Emerging Trends Europe Survey 2017

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