UNESCO World Heritage status not only sounds grand, it can also land you a tidy profit if your property happens to fall within the area in which the prestigious accolade is granted. According to the online property giant Zoopla, homes that are situated close to World Heritage sites are currently selling for around £80,000 more than the typical UK property.
At present, the average British home would set you back £284,127. However, properties that are within a stone’s throw of a UNESCO site can command around 27 per cent more than that – which comes in at a staggering £77,993 increase.
To put that even further into context, the average salary for a UK citizen currently sits at £31,625. This means that the difference between having a property situated close to a heritage site and one that is not is over double the typical Brit’s annual income. A bonus that is not to be sniffed at, I’m sure you will agree.
So, why such a huge difference?
Well, as ever, the main reason for the gulf between what would otherwise be considered similar homes is the fact that demand for property close to UNESCO World Heritage sites is higher than it is elsewhere. More and more people are looking to live in areas that are both steeped in culture and high in prestige. This makes World Heritage sites the obvious choice, thus pushing prices through the roof thanks to the lessening supply.
Making the most of the increases
Naturally, buying into an area already awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO will mean that you will be the one paying the premium, but you may still see your property price increase at a faster rate than that of a comparable home. Furthermore, if you choose an area famed for its outstanding natural beauty or one that is chock-full of tourist attractions, you could command significantly higher rent should you choose to opt for a buy-to-let investment.
That being said, all World Heritage sites are not equal, and there are still places that fall within the shadow of a UNESCO site that can be snapped up for a song. Take the homes that are situated close to the heart of Neolithic Orkney in Scotland, for example. Property here averages out at £130,169 – that’s a whole 178 per cent less than the average UNESCO site property which currently stands at £362,120.
Trying to predict the future
Having your finger on the cultural pulse will also help you make wiser decisions, and it could even help you predict where the next award will be made. For example, the Forth Bridge was awarded World Heritage status only last year (2015), and properties either side of the iconic structure have seen significant increases since the honour was announced.
While it is impossible to predict where the next World Heritage site will be in the United Kingdom with 100 per cent accuracy, you can make educated guesses that will stand you in good stead regardless of whether UNESCO deem the region worthy or not. Studying existing sites will give you a good idea of what the judges at UNESCO look for before making their decisions. By following that train of thought, you will inevitably begin to look at areas that are rich in history and cultural intrigue, making them sought-after places to live and visit whether they get World Heritage status or not.