'High demand' for property in Norwich as city living makes a comeback
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Data released by Rightmove earlier this year revealed that buyer demand for apartments and flats in Norwich had jumped to 62% – the second highest in the country.
It’s thought that the government-backed mortgage guarantee scheme, which allows buyers to secure a property with a 95% LTV (loan-to-value) mortgage, has helped first-time buyers, spurred on by people’s desire to move after lockdown.
“As we came out of lockdown the housing market boomed with people wanting their own space and a place they can call their own,” says Steve Pymm, managing director of Pymm & Co, based in the city.
“The market has been crying out for 95% LTV mortgages for years, so since the release of these lower deposit-based products the first-time buyer is back, snapping up apartments and starter homes.”
Russell Hill, partner at William H Brown, says apartments with outside space are currently most in demand, attracting a wide range of buyers.
“The demand for properties in Norwich is being driven by a mixture of local buyers and those looking to relocate within a reasonable commuting distance from London. This level of demand is keeping prices high, and the competition for each property coming to the market is therefore fierce.”
Jan Hytch, partner at Arnolds Keys and chair of the Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents, admits that although those looking in the city centre are still more likely to want to find freehold property – with a 6:1 ratio on their current mailing list – apartments offering something extra, like a lovely view, interesting character or what she describes as ‘the holy Grail’ – off-road allocated parking – will still prove popular.
One of the other areas where demand is particularly high is in new build developments. Tom Amis, associate director at Savills in Norwich, says: “There is high demand at either end of the spectrum for both starter apartments and high-end schemes.
“In the last few years, we have seen a number of permitted development sites and converted office blocks provide more apartments in Norwich. Developments such as Canary Quay by Broadland St Benedict have catered for first-time buyers looking to make their first step on to the property ladder.”
Of course, it’s not just first-time buyers or even those who want to live in the city themselves who are driving demand – investors are too.
“Interest in apartments is still prominent with investors and first-time buyers alike, especially because there are so many fantastic deals out there from lenders,” says Kris Pearce, who is branch manager of Minors & Brady’s new office on Unthank Road.
“The demand is still high with not quite enough supply, so city apartments coming to market are doing well and are very popular.”
The city centre rental market is proving popular across the UK, too. According to Zoopla, rents outside London are increasing at their fastest pace in more than a decade, with the average renter paying nearly 5% more – roughly £500 – per year than they did a year ago.
Zoopla said that average rents for the UK, excluding London, had risen to around £790 per month, and in Norwich, it’s not just young professionals or students who are driving demand.
Lesley Levy, associate partner at Brown & Co, who heads up the residential lettings department based in Norwich, said the apartment market right now was particularly buoyant. She said apartments in Norwich are so much in demand, she can let a new instruction before it even gets marketed.
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“The reason is the demand for apartments has increased because the type of person who wants to live in one has changed. These days, the lure of living in a modern, beautifully kitted out apartment is not just limited to young professionals and students.
"Now, many retired couples who have taken advantage of the recent property sales boom and sold their homes, choose to head for a taste of Norwich city life for a while – as renters, not buyers.
“After years of bearing the responsibility and costs of home ownership, the empty nest boomers are discovering the freedom and fun of city living, and the more stylish and well-appointed the apartment, the better.”
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