By 2021 the Buy-to-Let Sector Will Have Grown by 24%

Good news for buy-to-let investors comes with the latest tenant survey from property specialists Knight Frank. Their research shows that the proportion of households in the private rental sector will grow by 24% over the next four years.

This means that 1 in 4 Brits will be renting by 2021.

For prospective investors, this should come as a wakeup call to the vast potential of the market – one that is becoming a more robust asset class by the day.

If you’re looking to take advantage of these positive forecasts, we have plenty of exciting opportunities at Aspen Woolf. Our properties span the whole of the UK, with low-entry prices and guaranteed yields per annum.

Contributing Factors

Many people can't afford to buy homes in the UK, so are forced into rental properties.

Low wage growth, rising living costs and a severe housing shortage will see more and more people relying on rented accommodation as we move further into the 21st century. Would be first-time buyers are accepting that renting is their only viable route into their own homes, for now in any case.

Also consider that many simply prefer the flexibility renting offers, with others seeing it as a chance for independence from their parental home.

What’s more, the Knight Frank report shows that nearly 70% of those surveyed still expect to be living in the rental sector in three years’ time. This is great news for investors as long-term tenants are usually the most reliable, guaranteeing a regular income.

Who’s Renting?

Young professionals and couples make up the majority of the UK rental market.

The findings profile the type of people most likely to become tenants. As expected, young couples and single occupancies make up the majority of rented households (59%), with families at 29% and house sharers at 12%.

Young professionals aged between 25 and 34 are the most likely renters, with the majority of these expected to stay put until 2021 at least. According to the report, not wanting to be tied down to an expensive mortgage is the rationale behind this.

Of course, the student factor also plays a big part. Purpose-built flats are now strongly favoured by contemporary students, mainly for their modern amenities, high security and independent living.

At Aspen Woolf, we have a range of student flats in buy-to-let hotspots across the UK.

Positive Forecast

The private rented sector has doubled in size over the last decade in the UK.

Official projections from the Private Rented Sector (PRS) Research Consultancy show that 790,620 new rented households will be created by 2021. Their representative Dr Diana Babacic notes that:

“This growth will be largely on the demand side, but as specifically designed units for these age groups come to the market, we expect supply to start drawing more households to the sector. There will also be an increase in the number of mature professionals 35 to 49 years old living in the PRS.”

The Knight Frank report shows how the private rented sector has doubled over the past decade and will continue to grow until 2021. For buy-to-let investors, knowing your investment is likely to attract tenants provides peace of mind, as well as guaranteed rental yields over the next few years.


If you’re interested in becoming a property investor or adding to your portfolio, you can find out about opportunities across the UK, our student accommodation opportunities or get in touch for a chat.

Student Accommodation is the Ideal Investment in the Current Economy

With the UK set for political and economic uncertainty over the next few years, some commentators have predicted a period of stagnation for the property sector.

Although this remains to be seen and the market has held up well so far, one area that won’t be affected is student accommodation. This is because student investment is countercyclical in nature and less likely to be affected by the overall economy.

Students will always need somewhere to live, and if you can find a property in a favourable location, demand will hold up year-on-year. At Aspen Woolf, we offer a number of student properties for this exact reason.

Outstanding Performance

Student accommodation is one area of the UK property market that won't be hit by political uncertainty

Throughout the current decade, student accommodation has outperformed traditional assets in the property sector. Although recent external pressures on buy-to-let may partially explain this, the main reason is due to the strong demand for purpose-built flats in prime student areas.

Traditionally, first year students have had to rely on university-sponsored halls when they enrol – these are usually older buildings with limited space and basic amenities. Now, it seems undergraduates prefer modernised, purpose-built flats when given the option.

A recent report by Knight Frank backed this up. It showed students are prepared to pay increased rents if the facilities impress them, and so with many new developments containing gyms, games rooms and individual car parking, finding tenants should be of little worry.

At a time of political uncertainy, UK student accommodation remains a safe investment.

Even though many are being constructed in areas close to campus buildings, transport links and shops, there’s still a significant structural undersupply. It is here that individual investors can take advantage.

Yields are consistently high, helped by low-entry prices onto the market, with impressive occupancy rates. This isn’t a recent trend either, it has remained a resilient investment sector for many years now with no indication of slowing down.

In addition, rents are usually guaranteed by a parent and paid upfront. For investors, this provides great peace of mind knowing you’re assured both demand and rental income at the start of each term.

Positive Forecasts

The UK student population is 2 million and they need somewhere to live.

Although the UK student population is roughly 2 million, there’s only enough private-sector accommodation to house a quarter of them. And despite increased university fees, applications don’t seem to be slowing down. It seems the student sector will remain a robust asset class for many years to come.

These positive forecasts are being recognised by wealthy foreign investors. Over 70% of new purchases are from private equity and high net-worth overseas buyers. Even if you can’t compete with this financial clout, as a private investor it pays to recognise their buying behaviour.

According to Knight Frank, the purpose-built student market is estimated to be worth around £46 billion, with a further £5 billion to be added in new developments this year. This shows that, despite the economic uncertainty around at the moment, one sector unaffected is student property.

At Aspen Woolf, we’ve recognised this trend and have sourced various student flats from hotspots across the UK. We’ll have management companies in place for the investment on your behalf, meaning all you need do is sit back and enjoy your assured rental yields of between 6-10%.


Take a look at our current student property investment offers today.

If you’re interested in investing in student accommodation, you may want to take a look at the Five Best Student Towns to Invest In.

What Could the Election Results Mean for Property Investment?

A hopeful period of strength and stability didn’t turn out as planned for Theresa May. The snap election has muddied the waters, meaning some property investors may remain a tad more cautious until things settle down.

However, if speculators believe this time of political uncertainty will negatively affect the property market, one glance at the sector post-Brexit should be of comfort. In the year since the Referendum, the average property price has risen by 5.6%.

Likewise, although the Conservatives didn’t get the extended majority they were looking for, they still have mandate to govern effectively and will be able to guide the country through the EU negotiations.

Therefore, property speculators shouldn’t worry too much about the seemingly ambiguous future of UK politics. The law of supply and demand will remain, especially in the consistent rental and student sectors which are more immune to outside influence.

The UK general election led to a lot of political uncertainty.

Image credit: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916 via Flickr

Expert Views

Many estate agents inside the industry have experienced election fallout before, as well as the 2008 economic crash and last year’s Referendum. Of course, any uncertainty is not welcomed by investors, but because the UK has a chronic housing shortage problem, the demand will always be there.

Sales director at Seven Capital, Andy Foote, echoed these sentiments in the wake of the election result:

“While the London market may be more sensitive to a change in central government, for the short term, growth markets around the country will remain robust and resilient, delivering capital growth for investors,”

“Despite the change in government, the imbalance of supply and demand in the UK property market still persists.”

Housing Minister

Alok Sharma is the new UK Housing Minister.

Image credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Flickr

Adam Challis, the head of residential research at investment management company JLL, has noted that the loss of Gavin Barwell as housing minister will have mixed results. Although some may believe this will create more ambiguity, if the new minister, Alok Sharma, can continue government house building pledges then confidence will return.

Challis says:

“It will be crucial that the new champions of housing market policy in government can reaffirm commitments to the current policy direction rather than to create further disruption or uncertainty,”

“It’s important the policy direction as set out in the white paper on building more homes across the range of tenures will be upheld.”

International Investment

Brexit and the election both saw a drop in the pound. This has mixed results for the economy, where one positive is a rise in foreign spending. International investors will be attracted to the UK in increasing numbers due to the more favourable exchange rate.

This has been evident within the student market in particular. Over 70% of investment in the purpose-built student sector was from overseas buyers last year. The spending behaviour of accomplished and wealthy foreign buyers is a good indication of where growth will occur.

No Real Impact

Just as Brexit didn't have much impact on the UK property market, the election likely won't either.

Image credit: Paul Townsend via Flickr

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner has maintained that the results of the snap election won’t have too much impact on people’s buying and selling behaviour. Broader economic effects are the main factor, something proven by previous election trends.

As house prices remain out of reach of many traditional first-time buyers, the rental sector is expected to grow in demand as well as rental income. A typical tenant won’t really have the state of UK politics in mind when considering a move, meaning the election isn’t likely to affect the overall property market too much either way.


If you’d like further evidence that the property market is still healthy despite current politics, then you might be interested that Demand for Rented Homes is on the Up as Renting is Now Cheaper Than Buying.

10 Remarkable Facts about Chester, UK

Chester is a city with quite a fascinating history. With so much culture and entertainment to be enjoyed, combined with a top class university and excellent job prospects, this city has plenty to offer students, young professionals and tourists alike. But just how much do you know about this noteworthy, ancient city?


Chester city walls in the UK

1. The Famous Walled City

Chester is home to the best surviving Roman Fortress Wall in Northern Europe (near Northgate). Dating back to Roman times, it was founded as a fort in 79 AD, and apart from a small 100-metre section, the listed Grade I walls are all still standing today.


Chester’s Rows Tudor style buildings in the UK

2. Chester’s Rows

The city is famous for its covered walkways at the first floor in each of the city’s four main streets, which allow for double level shopping. This rare architectural feature dates back to at least the 13th Century and is unique not only in Britain, but around the world.


Chester zoo tiger in the UK

3. Award-Winning Zoo

Chester zoo is the most visited wildlife attraction in the UK, with 1.9 million visiting every year. With 15,000 animals over 125 acres of award-winning zoological gardens, TripAdvisor named Chester Zoo the 7th best zoo in the entire world in 2015.


Daniel Craig From Chester, UK, as 007 James Bond

4. Birthplace of James Bond!

Well, ok not actually 007 himself, but the actor who currently plays Britain’s most famous MI5 agent, Daniel Craig, was born in Chester in 1968.


Footballer Michael Owen from Chester, UK

5. Top Sports Stars

Chester has also produced some of the UK’s best sportspeople, including professional snooker player Ricky Walden, Olympic medal-winning gymnast Beth Tweddle and top footballers Michael Owen, Danny Murphy and Tom Heaton.


Chester Racecourse, The UK's oldest racecourse

6. Oldest Racecourse in Britain

Chester Racecourse, also known as the Roodee, has hosted horse racing events since 1539, making it not only the oldest racecourse in the country, but Britain’s oldest sporting venue in continual use!


UK University of Chester students graduate

7. Best Performing University in the North West of England for Employability

The University of Chester is such a successful university that 95.2% of its graduates go on to work or further study within six months of graduating. And with 2000 members of staff and a large number of its students staying in Chester to take up employment, the University contributes approximately £135 million to the local economy in financial terms alone. It was also awarded a Silver rating in the recent Teaching Excellence Framework ratings.


The 5th Prettiest City in Europe is Chester in the UK

8. 5th Prettiest City in Europe!

In a 2013 poll by USA Today poll Chester was named the fifth prettiest city in Europe, beating picturesque tourist hotspots such as Prague, Budapest, Santorini, Venice and Bruges!


UK's Chester Renaissance Investment

9. The Chester Renaissance

Over the past 10 years, Chester has seen a whopping £1.3billion of investment, designed to help the city become a “must see European destination”. This massive, exciting project has been nicknamed ‘Chester Renaissance’ and includes the Northgate Development, Delamere Street development and the £60million HQ development.


City Place, a new regeneration investment plan in Chester, UK

10. City Place

A new £120m regeneration of Chester’s central business district is planned to be completed by 2028. City Place will provide in excess of 500,000 sq. ft. of quality office accommodation, retail and leisure facilities, and includes 200 new residential units. This project is expected to create around 3,500 jobs.

Chester’s deep-rooted heritage, culture and strong economy make it an incredible place to live, work, visit or study in, and that in turn makes the city a top choice for property investors looking for the next ‘big’ city to invest in.


If you found this interesting, you might also find Why Invest in Chester and A Guide to Investing in Student Property in Chester useful.

Looking at investing in Chester already? Here are the properties we currently have available.

Optimistic Outlook for Property Market in Next Five Years

According to new research by Barclays Bank, the UK property market is set to thrive over the next five years. They predict house prices will rise by an average of 6.1% during this period, with high value areas experiencing the largest growth.

The study factored in numerous components that can influence the market. This includes rental trends, employment levels, commuter accessibility and the expected behaviour of high worth investors.

For prospective investors, this is great news after some post-Brexit uncertainty. Knowing your initial outlay is likely to increase in value means you’ll always have a stable exit strategy to fall back on.

Regional Performance

London property looks set to gain the most over the next five years, where increases of as much as 12% could be made. This is mainly due to extremely wealthy investors who are always drawn to the capital.

Significant gains are also expected in East Anglia (9.38%), the South East (8.74%) and East Midlands (6.67%), as well as the West Midlands and Scotland at 5.88% each.

In the northern regions, house prices are generally lower to begin with. Although this means increases in the North East, North West and Yorkshire of around 4% aren’t as high, it still allows low-entry buyers to enter the market with confidence.

Positive Investment Climate

For buy-to-let investors, any positive forecast makes for great reading. A purchase that’ll increase in value whilst generating rental profits along the way is the ultimate goal.

The chief executive of Barclays wealth and investments division, Dena Brumpton, has echoed these thoughts with his comments on the study:

“There is an increasing confidence among property investors, as many are taking a long-term view when it comes to putting money into property. It’s also interesting to see from our research how investment prospects are emerging outside of the established property heartland of London and the South of England, with economic growth and employment opportunity fueling growth in hotspots across the UK.”

estate agent signs

Image credit: Rachel H via Flickr

Contributing Factors

The main factor behind these anticipated gains is the UK’s chronic undersupply of housing. New building schemes can’t keep up with demand, especially with an ageing population and large net migration figures. An additional 200,000 people are expected each year.

In turn, the UK’s current stock will grow in value as the necessity to find somewhere to live intensifies – by 2021, the average value of a home in the UK will be nearly £300,000.

However, because of this inflated cost, most traditional first-timer buyers are being forced onto the rental market. Around one-fifth of the population are now currently renting, a figure that was just 8% back in 2001.

There are no signs of this trend slowing down, especially as house prices look set to rise again according to the Barclays survey. This means now is the time to invest, not only to make long-term gains but to also take advantage of the rental mindset of modern Britons.


For more information on the rental market, you might find Rents Increased Year-on-Year Official Statistics Show interesting.

If you’re ready to become a property investor, get in touch for a chat today.

Now is the Time to Invest in the North as Yields and Equity Continue to Grow

Property investors traditionally drawn to London and the South are increasingly exploring the Northern Powerhouse and its variety of housing stock. With less expensive property and reliance on the rental sector, yields and equity continue to grow.

It appears as if the northern regions of the UK are proving a safer bet – mainly because there’s a chronic undersupply of housing and thus a heavy reliance on the rental sector. This is why now is the time to invest in the North.

Price Changes

The annual average growth rate across the UK is falling but prices in the North are increasing.

Image credit: Tim Green via Flickr

The Hometrack index report monitors house prices across 20 UK cities, as well as regional and national trends. The most recent report shows that the annual rate of price growth has slowed from 8.7% down to 5.3% (April 2016 – April 2017).

However, eleven cities are still rising at a rate faster than a year ago. This surge is led by areas north of the capital, notably Manchester at 8.4%, Birmingham at 7.7%, and Leicester at 7.7%.

Likewise, property in Edinburgh (5.8%), Leeds (4.6%) and Liverpool (4.4%) also showed positive increases from where they were 12 months ago. Because of this ongoing growth, Aspen Woolf have sourced a range of investment opportunities in these areas so our clients are assured of long-term capital appreciation.

Expensive South

The London property market has become overinflated and too expensive for many people.

Image credit: Stephen Colebourne via Flickr

One of the main reasons for this fluctuation is the poor performance of southern regions, and in particular the overinflated London market. Although property prices in the capital still saw an annual growth of 3.5%, this is considerably lower than the 13% recorded in April 2016. This is the lowest level London has been at for five years.

The Hometrack report cites affordability constraints, tax changes and weaker market sentiment for lack of movement in the southern regions. It goes on to say:

“Looking ahead we expect current trends to continue with house price growth losing momentum in cities across southern England where housing unaffordability is at a record high and has priced large numbers of households out of the market.

Weaker investor demand supports this trend, taking demand out of the market and adding to supply as investors look to rationalise and de-leverage portfolios in the wake of tax changes.”

Why invest in the North?

The steady increase in prices and demand for rental properties makes the North a great place to invest.

Image credit: John Lord via Flickr

The steady increase in house prices is just one reason to invest in the north. There’s also the robust demand for rental properties, an important contributing factor to its performance. Yields in these northern regions have thus outperformed the UK average, notably in Salford (7.08%), Manchester (5.79%) and Leeds (5.96%), in the year up to March 2017.

This is because properties are generally less expensive in these areas. Combined with large student numbers and a strong demand for rental accommodation, there are no signs of this trend slowing down in the foreseeable future.

The Hometrack report also points out that households will look to take advantage of the current low mortgage rates and improving economic outlook, although some caution should still remain due to the Election fallout and continuing Brexit negotiations.

You can find out more about the properties with assured long-term capital appreciation that Aspen Woolf has secured for investors here.
If you’d like to know more about the current and future property market, you might be interested in why there is an Optimistic Outlook for the Property Market in the Next Five Years.

Demand for Rented Homes on the Up as Renting is Now Cheaper Than Buying

The latest housing data shows that renting is now cheaper than buying in over half of the UK’s 50 largest cities.

Property experts Zoopla found that in 54% of cases, the monthly cost of renting a two-bedroom home is less costly than obtaining a mortgage.

This is promising news for buy-to-let landlords, especially as this trend has risen in a relatively short space of time. In October last year, the number of these locations was just 40%.

House Price Rises

Due to house prices increasing, mortgage payments are increasing far higher than rents.

Image credit: Thomas’s Pics via Flickr

In the survey of Britain’s 50 biggest cities, Zoopla found the average monthly rent on a two-bedroom home is £690. Compared with mortgage repayments of £737 for the same size property, you’re making a saving of £564 each year.

Some property speculators have concluded that house prices have reached a high point, particularly in the capital and Home Counties. This is mainly due to a chronic undersupply of homes and numerous enquiries for the same property. Historically low-interest rates and help-to-buy schemes have also helped raise prices.

Regional Statistics

While London is a popular place to invest, you can great better yields in other parts of the UK, including Liverpool, Bristol and the commuter towns and cities.

Image credit: Berit Watkin via Flickr

Analysing the Zoopla data further, a correlation emerges between the most expensive areas and the biggest rent/mortgage difference. This is no more evident than in London, where monthly rents of £1,861 lie well below mortgage repayments of £3,000. However, due to the high property prices in London, the rental yield is actually much lower than in other areas of the country, which means that investing in property outside of London can prove better value for money.

Liverpool and Bristol are other areas of interest for buy-to-let investors, with differences between rent and mortgage repayments of 23% and 16% respectively. Because of this, Aspen Woolf have sourced properties from these locations due to the potential for high tenancy demand.

The table below displays the top ten:

Location Median Monthly Rent Avg. Mortgage Repayment Difference
London £1,861 £3,000 47%
Cambridge £1,099 £1,488 30%
Brighton £1,199 £1,576 27%
Reading £1,000 £1,301 26%
Bedford £764 £975 24%
Liverpool £623 £784 23%
Southampton £779 £949 20%
Bristol £900 £1,056 16%
Oldham £476 £550 14%
Bournemouth £848 £975 14%

Large Demand for Rented Homes

As mortgages are so difficult to get these days, the demand for rental properties has been increasing.

Image credit: Diana Parkhouse via Flickr

The scramble for rented properties has been high in the UK for many years now, especially as obtaining a mortgage has become increasingly difficult for first-time buyers. According to accountancy firm PwC, there will be 7.2 million households in rented accommodation by 2025.

Further research from the ARLA property group showed that in January this year, their letting agents witnessed a 34% increase in registered tenants per branch. This is good news for landlords as monthly rents will maintain a positive growth whilst remaining cheaper than mortgages, as noted above.

The rise in rents can be attributed to a lack of supply, with additional government pressure on landlords playing its part too. And as there’s no real sign of this pattern slowing down, it appears as if the buy-to-let sector is the place to invest at the present time.


If you’d like to know more about the current demand for rental properties in the UK, feel free to get in touch with us today. Our range of properties are carefully selected where the need for accommodation is at a premium, at a time when renting is cheaper than buying.

If you’d like to invest in London property but can’t, you may be interested in how Commuter Towns are the Hottest Places for Property Investment.

The UK’s Best vs. Worst Postcodes for Buy-to-Let Investing

In order to gain an edge in the investment market, it pays to take notice of which postcodes offer the best yields, and which ones produce the worst. We have analysed the recent data from, comparing the top rated areas across the UK with the worst performers to show you where you should consider investing your hard earned money.


UK Hotspots vs. Coldspots

Northern cities dominated the Top 10 best postcodes for potential buy-to-let yields. With five entries in the Top 10 – including taking spots one to four! – Liverpool is clearly the top city in the UK for buy-to-let yields. Whereas the places with the lowest yields were generally expensive areas in the south, most notably London. Poole, on the south coast, sits at the bottom of the table with just 1.40% average yields for buy-to-let properties.


UK Top 10 Buy-to-Let Property Hotspots V.S Coldspots

UK Top 10 Buy to let hotspots vs coldspots table, June 201, by Aspen Woolf

When looking at the two sets of figures side by side, the contrast is stark. Liverpool’s L7 postcode towers over the bottom ten, bringing in a yield nearly 12x higher than Poole’s BH14. But even comparing the lowest of the top 10 with the highest of the bottom 10, there’s still a difference of nearly 8%, with Sheffield’s S2 postcode averaging yields of 9.73% compared to the average of just 2.05% found in London’s W11.


UK Top 10 Buy-to-Let Property Hotspots V.S Coldspots

UK Top 10 Buy-to-Let Property Hotspots V.S Coldspots graph, June 2017, by Aspen Woolf

These figures show just how important it is to consider investing outside the capital, and in particular to look to the North of England for the best returns. It also specifically demonstrates the difference between London and one of the UK’s biggest northern cities: Liverpool.


London vs. Liverpool

London has long been thought of as a beacon for finance, and particularly for property investment. But with prices soaring in recent years, the UK’s capital city has become a less economic choice for investors. Indeed five of the worst performing postcodes in this research are in London. Conversely, Liverpool has been surging in popularity with those looking for buy-to-let property. This is thanks to a combination of house prices that are lower than the national average, many large-scale regeneration projects bringing in massive investment, and the booming reputation of Northern Powerhouse cities.


UK City Comparison: Top 10 Hotspots – London V.S. Liverpool

UK City Comparison: Top 10 Hotspots - London V.S. Liverpool table, June 2017, by Aspen Woolf

When lining up the two cities side by side, the difference is truly staggering. London’s best performing postcode, E13, is well behind Liverpool’s top placed area, L7, with a whopping 11.08% between them. And even when you compare E13 to Liverpool’s 10th best postcode, L33, there’s still 1.44% extra to be made in the Northern city.


UK City Comparison: Top 10 Hotspots – London V.S. Liverpool

UK City Comparison: Top 10 Hotspots - London V.S. Liverpool graph, June 2017, by Aspen Woolf

In this tale of two cities, Liverpool is the clear winner. When you can make more than 3x the yield in Liverpool than can be achieved in London’s best postcode, the choice of which city to invest in becomes a pretty easy one.


If you want more information on where is best to invest, take a look at The UK’s Top Buy-To-Let Hotspots in 2017 Revealed! and The UK’s 5 Best Student Towns to Invest In.

And if you’re ready to begin your investment journey, have a look at the properties we currently have available and get in touch!

Why Invest in Chester

Dating back to 1st century A.D, Chester is an historic walled city in the northwest of England that was founded as a Roman fortress. Situated close to Liverpool, Manchester and the Welsh border, this ancient city has excellent transport links, an interesting mix of heritage and culture, and plenty of opportunities to attract workers, students and investors. Here’s why we think you should consider investing in Chester.


Economy and Growth

Economy and Growth

Chester sits in the county of Cheshire, which contributes £20billion a year to the UK’s GVA. Employing over 27,000 people, the city itself adds £1.8 billion to the Cheshire and Warrington economy annually.

Finance is a big industry in the city, with the Bank of America, HBOS plc, M&S Bank and Virgin Money all having large offices based here. Tourism is the other big earner, with Chester Zoo alone boosting the region’s economy by £50million!

In a plan to build off this, in 2007 Chester Council declared their intention to become a “must see European destination”, with a 10-year, £1.3 billion plan known as the Chester Renaissance. Specific projects included the Delamere Street development, the £60million HQ development and the £300 million Chester Northgate development.

Chester has also launched the Chester Growth Partnership, a 15-year strategy that will, with the help of key partners, deliver a programme of further regeneration and improvements to the city as part of the One City Plan.


Popular with Tourists

Popular with Tourists

With so much history and culture on offer, Chester is naturally a big draw for tourists. Its heritage is on display for all to see, with most of the Grade I listed wall still intact and an array of historical architecture, such as the half-timbered buildings that look like they’re straight out of a Grimm Fairy Tale! It won’t come as much of a surprise that in 2013 the city was voted the prettiest in the UK, and placed in the top five cities in Europe.

Another big attraction is Chester Zoo, which is the largest in the UK. With over 11,000 animals, set in 110 acres of award-winning gardens, you can certainly while away a few hours. Follow up your animal adventure with a trip to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, the only professional open-air theatre company currently operating outside London.

Shopping is also a popular pastime in Chester. The Grosvenor Shopping Centre is a popular destination, soon to be joined by the £300 million Chester Northgate development. This major new complex will have 500,000 sq. ft. of new retail, restaurant and leisure facilities.

And with a good choice of cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs, there’s plenty to keep the 31+ million visitors to the region entertained.



Great for Students

The University of Chester is a well-regarded institution that dates back 176 years. It welcomes nearly 20,000 young people every year, studying a range of subjects from business to science to media. It boasts an impressive rate of 95.2% of students going into work or further study within 6 months of graduating.

The university also plays a big part in the local community and economy. Recent massive expansion has led to regeneration of several buildings in and around the city, repurposing them for educational use. For example, the Shell Technology Centre, which the university took over in 2013 and converted into the Thornton Science Park. This allowed the university to offer a range of new engineering-related degree programmes, significantly upping their national profile and reputation.

Whilst the academic profile is enough of a draw alone, the cultural experiences and nightlife help to make Chester such a popular place to study.



Strong Transport Links

Tucked beneath Liverpool, next to the Welsh border, with Manchester just over an hour away, Chester is well-placed to be accessed by both road and train.

Major roads, the A55 and A483, takes drivers down into North and South Wales, the M53 links the city to Liverpool, while the M56 connects Chester with both Manchester and the M6, which heads south towards Birmingham and the Midlands.

The city’s main railway station, Chester General, welcomes trains across the city, including London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Crewe, and (from December 2017) Leeds and Bradford.

And then, there’s the canal. Part of the Shropshire Canal Network, the canal’s two branches – which run under the northern part of the city’s border wall – have played a key role in trade and transport in Chester for centuries.

The city also benefits from a local bus and tram network, and is a relatively short distance from both Manchester Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport – handy for those looking to travel further afield!



Buoyant Housing Market

The city certainly has character and a rich visual look thanks to the vast variety of historic architecture, from medieval to Tudor and Victorian. And with a strong economy and wave of investment since the 2008 recession, the property market is flourishing.

Indeed, Chester has had one of the fastest growing housing markets in recent years – in 2015 demand for housing rose by 164%! This naturally helped prices rise in that time. Average prices in the city currently sit at £224,568, which is just a little below the average for England (£232,530).

And with a crackdown on HMOs in the city, there is an increasing need for new purpose built student accommodation to house Chester’s large cohort of students. This provides investors with an ideal opportunity to enter one of the best and strongest markets in the UK.


If you want to read more about investing in Chester and student property, take a look at A Guide to Investing in Student Property in Chester and Student Properties Are a Safe Bet For 2017.

Think an investment property in Chester might be right for you? Here are the properties we currently have available.

Rents in England Increased Year-on-Year Official Statistics Show

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that rents in England grew by 2% in the year to April 2017.

This correlates with an overall rise from January 2011 where rental prices across the whole of the UK have increased by an impressive 14.6%!

Despite additional pressures on the buy-to-let sector in recent years, investors should be buoyed by these rental statistics. This is especially the case if you can obtain properties in buy-to-let hotspots around the country – something we have been quick to recognise here at Aspen Woolf.

Why are Rents Increasing?

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that rents in England grew by 2% in the year to April 2017.

Image credit: Christine und Hagen Graf via Flickr

Rents have consistently risen because traditional first-time buyers cannot afford to purchase their own home. Combine this with a chronic lack of housing and you have millions of people increasingly reliant on the private rental sector, and not just for the short-term either.

These findings are backed up by the latest English Housing Survey. It shows the private rental sector has doubled in size since 2004, with almost half of those aged between 25 and 34 paying a landlord for their accommodation. Around a decade ago, this figure was below a quarter.

What this ultimately means is that monthly rates will increase. Landlords are assured of enquiries as potential tenants have no real alternative, even as rents continue to rise each year.

Landlord’s Perspective

A gradual increase in rents over a few years is more beneficial than doing a sudden increase.

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Looking at things from the landlord’s point of view also helps explain this pattern of growth. Of course, no investor wants to disappoint their tenant by raising prices, but the choice is sometimes taken out of your hands.

If the level of inflation or cost of living rises – as it has done in the UK since 2015 – it makes sense to increase your rental income to cope, especially as other landlords are likely to be doing the same.

As noted, it’s not good practice to burden your tenants with an expensive hike in their rent in one go. A gradual increase over a few years is more beneficial, hence the long-term positive trend across the UK as a whole.

Further Analysis

Aspen Woolf have sourced properties from Plymouth due to these rental increases and positive forecasts.

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Looking further at the ONS report, it illustrates that even by removing excessive London rents from the equation there’s still a 10.5% rise after 2011. The rest of England outpaced both Wales and Scotland comfortably.

The South West performed impressively, with rents up 2.5% from March this year, whilst the North West also saw a rise of 1.4% over the same period. Aspen Woolf have sourced properties from Plymouth and Liverpool due to these rental increases and positive forecasts.

There’s no sign of these trends slowing down either, especially as more and more people are being pushed into the rental sector. According to property agent Savills, rents (+19%) across England are set to rise considerably faster than house prices (+13%) between now and 2021.


You can find out more about our investment opportunities in Plymouth and Liverpool over on our UK investment page.

If you would like to know more about these areas, you may be interested in 5 Reasons Why Now is the Time to Invest in Plymouth and Three Reasons Why North Liverpool is a Great Place to Invest.