“Top 20 areas of North Yorkshire’s rental market revealed” – not all it seems?

“Top 20 areas of North Yorkshire’s rental market revealed” – not all it seems?

I received the following “Top 20 areas of North Yorkshire’s rental market revealed” through LinkedIn today and I was keen to see the report.

It’s only short and when I’d finished I wasn’t sure what I’d learnt, if anything. Then a closer look revealed … nothing!


After the introductory fluff, the first pertinent table allegedly shows the comparative ‘size’ of the rental markets in towns and cities. It shows Middlesbrough (spelling it incorrectly with an extra ‘o’ by the way) as by far the largest ‘market’, quoting it as 35% of the total North Yorkshire market, with Richmond at 25%, York at 17% and Harrogate at 7.2%. Wow! Interesting.

Hang on! Richmond at 25%?! Richmond has a population of 8,500? Even the whole of Richmondshire is only 53,000 (North Yorkshire has a population of about 1.3m) how can it be 25% of the market?

I look again … the statistics are an “analysis of rental prices (in advertised rents) for homes to let”. Which means these are rental asking prices – for rentals that have not yet let. So really it does not show the size of the rental market at all, it more accurately describes what is NOT renting! Therefore on this data scrape you might be better assuming that Middlesbrough is critically over-supplied and be looking at the lower percentages where there isn’t such a high surplus on the market. No?

No. This data has absolutely no meaning at all – the size of the location is not considered – a low percentage location might still be over-supplied using this data. I can’t actually work out what this data is telling me. Certainly not quickly, which is what data is supposed to do.

What about the next table ‘Top5 rental markets … on rent’?

1. Richmond: £1798 pcm
2. York: £1395 pcm
3. Harrogate: £823 pcm
4. Scarborough: £477 pcm
5. Middlesborough: £425 pcm

In my humble opinion, similarly useless. So Middlesbrough, although substantially highest in the ‘market size’ rank of the first table, is 5th with a rental figure less than a quarter of Richmond. I can sort of extrapolate from the two sets of figures that Middlesbrough has a lot more properties available at much lower rents than Richmond. But now I’m trying to guess what’s going on with Richmond, commanding such high rents – perhaps there are a significant number of very large, rural houses which are not letting and skewing the data.

What data? It’s a mess. Does any of this inform investment decisions or help me define the best rental markets in the region? Emphatically not. Useless. A waste of my time reading and trying to understand this ‘report’ and of the agent’s time in originally producing it. I suppose at least I got a blog post out of it – but not the positive kind of post the originator of the ‘report’ was looking for.

Ecotourism in the Dales

Innovative eco-business shows best of Nidderdale

A few days ago I stumbled on this lovely article about an imaginative business located in the North Yorkshire, which encourages visitors to the Yorkshire Dales to explore the wonderful countryside in ‘green’, electric campervans.

Exploring the Yorkshire Dales by electric campervan

‘It’s a bit like a Super Mario Kart,” the owner Kit had joked. And halfway up a steep hill, I got my chance to prove it. Flicking the thrilling “turbo” switch on the dashboard, I rocketed skyward. Well, perhaps not quite skyward, but what is claimed to be the world’s only all-electric classic VW campervan for hire made easy work of it.

The article goes on to describe a number of the beautiful locations, places to visit and ‘things to do’. It is a welcome expounding of the virtues of the Yorkshire countryside and the positive benefit to well-being.

Of course, one can never be sure whether a business like this has real legs but the enthusiasm, imagination and (to use a great Northern term) sheer gumption is genuinely admirable – we can only wish them the best of luck in this ambitious endeavour.

Pub lounge

Off market potential commercial conversion project

We are currently treading softly on a totally off market potential deal to convert a pub in one of Harrogate’s outlying villages. This is a significant single plot development project which, if the right investor can be found, we could more pro-actively push forward. We might also be able to work with the vendor for the right development scheme, converting it into either a c.£1m house with a work / leisure annex or up to 2x SA / holiday cottages.

Although we would intend to secure and undertake the development ourselves on this project, we might well be prepared to package and sell it on as a deal to a suitable development partner.

Green zone kitchen GK1

Done! Zetland House refinanced!

It has been a long and difficult journey, to say the least!  But yesterday afternoon we finally got the commercial refinance in place for the Huddersfield Zetland House project.

Green Zone – Kitchen 1

We now have a fantastic group of properties in a ‘cluster style’ student format providing 35 bedrooms, 8 kitchens and 14 bath/shower rooms.

We are immensely proud and feel we can allow ourselves at least a small celebration!

Of course, the work is never over – we need  to maintain our standards and improve working practices, becoming a more profitable long term investment.

Blue Zone B1 – single en-suite room

But finally, 22½ months after starting development work, 25 months after drawing up the initial evaluation documentation, we complete our ‘exit’.

I’m not kidding when I say this is a project I could write a small (no – maybe large) book about, involving;

  • before we even started, a problem with an area of ‘no-man’s land’ not on any title deed
  • subsequent declining of purchase finance and the deal apparently collapsing a number of times
  • eventually negotiating a vendor assisted purchase …
  • … utilising an exchange and delayed completion strategy
  • requiring an application to be made by the vendor for possessory title of the ‘no-man’s land’ with severe penalties for non-compliance
  • raising an initial £400k of development investment
  • completely stripping out, knocking about, reconstructing and refurbishing c.5000 sq ft of original hovel HMOs
  • in parts, finding the buildings in worse condition than anticipated (and we’d already thought it was really bad)
  • so bad in one part we had to remove the entire 40 sq m+ floor and start again
  • adding substantial dormers creating 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen in unexploited roof space
  • negotiating early end of lease to enable commercial conversion of a takeaway and a retail unit
  • digging down and excavating to create 5 new rooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen from the old beer cellars
  • Flood Risk Zone 3 complications
  • Planning problems and Planning Consultant issues
  • the collapse of the principle Project Director with a major heart rupture on site half way through development
  • navigation through the subsequent chaos
  • overshoot on delayed completion leading to …
  • … seeking emergency 12 month bridging, eventually from a private equity fund
  • further raising of finance to meet additional development and some overspend related to delays
  • (somehow) managing to hold to onto everything and meeting our target of 35 letting rooms for the student market
  • then there’s the whole refinancing process including dealing with low valuations and having to amend company structures to satisfy lenders
  • and (as they say) much, much more!
Rear Courtyard with Yorkshire stone table and seating

We have continually learned so much, about so many different aspects of property development, JV relationships and raising finance. It has indeed been a rollercoaster ride but the value to our collective education has been invaluable.

So, after jumping from the previous simple Buy-Refurb-Sell project to one involving all of the above on on our very next project – what next!?

Yorkshire Dales

Why the North? Why Yorkshire. Why North Yorkshire above all.

“Let’s shout it from the Dales: here’s why Yorkshire is the best.”

Of course, a lot of us think where we live is best. However, many people would love to live up here instead of where they live now.

There is certainly a quality of life here among the best in the country.

Let’s shout it from the dales: here’s why Yorkshire is the best | Dave Simpson

Part of the the county has been named as the happiest place in Britain. To music and football writer Dave Simpson, that’s no surprise

You see we think it’s grim down South, not up North!

The Guardian has published this feature piece by Dave Simpson who obviously has real affinity with Yorkshire and the Dales – worth a read if you know little about Yorkshire.


Prime property market strong within Yorkshire’s ‘golden triangle’ – Financial Times

As those of us who live in this ‘golden triangle’ know, there is significant wealth around these parts. The prime end of the market in particular remains buoyant and shows all signs of maintaining solid growth even should the post-Brexit UK economy take a significant downturn.

This is not only at the luxury end though. All house sale prices remain on the up and Harrogate, in particular, has historically ridden property downturns much better than the city conurbations of West Yorkshire and significant areas of York. ‘Oop North’, everyone aspires to live somewhere around here.

BUT you have to know exactly where is best. You cannot beat detailed, accurate local knowledge when choosing specific strategies for specific properties in which to invest. Buy-to-let yields aren’t as favourable as other areas, capital growth and stability are the key. HMOs won’t work in very specific areas but boutique HMOs will fly in others.

This Financial Times article focuses on the prime market but illuminates any number of good reasons for investing in the ‘golden triangle’ at all levels of the property market.  In uncertain times, investment in this very specific area of Yorkshire is increasingly looking a very sensible choice.

Prime property market strong with Yorkshire’s ‘golden triangle’


The Telegraph’s view on property investment highlights our area for growth potential

Number 2 in their list of areas for property investment growth potential:

2. Leeds, York and Harrogate – Yorkshire & Humberside. These are the affluent areas of the region where people are not as constrained by affordability. And yet, because prices are nowhere near the £1m, £2m, £3m mark that they are in London, growth has not been hit by stamp duty.”

So the Telegraph informs everyone of something we already know. The Leeds, York, Harrogate triangle is full of opportunity but there are subtle differences in the types of investment which will work efficiently in each area.

In Harrogate in particular, house prices have historically held well in recessions, so if you want to add a layer of protection to your asset pick your location very carefully. Harrogate is a great choice to protect capital but, overall, rentals yields are tighter than many areas of Leeds, where capital growth will still be limited despite infrastructure investment, but short term yields are more attractive. York has a fine mix of both opportunities but there are local factors such as a very strict implementation of Article 4 across the wider city inhibiting HMO investments.

I can’t stress it enough, local ‘boots on the ground’ with specialist local knowledge are what you need for confident, profitable and secure investments.

Which areas will see the biggest house price rises by 2020?

In six months time we could be wondering why we were worried. But, if there is economic trouble in China ahead it could knock confidence in the stock market and housing market, and in the long term it could impact jobs and companies in Britain that sell products to China, Mr Chegwidden explained.