UK cities back in favour as demand wanes for seaside homes

The behaviour of both buyers and renters has changed over the course of the pandemic, but UK cities are once again some of the most desired hotspots.

The race for space was widely reported among agents during the height of the pandemic, once the market got moving again. As many UK cities became ghost towns due to furlough and homeworking, some dwellers decided to up sticks for more remote locations.

This meant greater demand for many rural and coastal parts of the country, where buyers can often get more for their money than in city centres. Likewise, some renters decided to seek larger properties with more outdoor space.

Homeworking, it is now clear, is here to stay for many people, or at least a hybrid model of working. This means living in the city, close to the office, may be less necessary. However, UK cities are once again bustling, and more people are returning to the office.

Research from Rightmove has revealed signs of change in demand for these areas, noting that competition is cooling off in the once-popular seaside areas. Meanwhile, appetite is growing in the UK’s 50 largest cities, with rental competition among tenants up by an average of 29%.

Which UK cities are renters targeting?

Rightmove’s analysis shows that tenants are particularly keen to move to some of the UK’s key cities. It has compiled a top 10 list in order of the change in tenant competition between May 2021 and May 2022.

The results show a notable increase in tenant competition in the north of England. Top of the list is Edinburgh, where competition has increased by 134% year on year. Asking rents in the city are currently £1,213 per calendar month.

Next is London, one of the only southern UK cities in the list, which saw a 115% rise in competition. The capital’s housing market has reported the slowest growth in recent months. Asking rents there are £2,449.

In third position is Salford, part of Greater Manchester, where competition has shot up by 91% between May 2021 and May 2022. Asking rents are much more affordable at £1,036, adding to its appeal for tenants.

Manchester, always one of the most popular cities for renters and property investors, comes in fourth position with an increase of 83%, and asking rents of £1,041.

Newcastle (79%), Southampton (73%), Glasgow (65%), Aberdeen (59%), Durham (57%) and Cardiff (55%) made up the rest of the top 10 list.

What about buyers?

Rightmove property expert Tim Bannister, says: “Though demand is still high in many coastal areas, it has slowed from the heady levels seen in parts of 2020 and 2021.

“As more choice becomes available in these seaside areas, we’re seeing some of the competition between buyers and renters begin to cool off.

“However, no two local markets are the same, and it will take many months for supply to reach a better balance with demand in many coastal areas.”

In the buyer’s market, the north is also the most favoured location when it comes to competition for properties. The data is measured by the number of buyers (or renters in the above results) contacting agents in an area, compared with the number of properties available.

Among buyers, competition has gone up by 13% across UK cities. This is led by Bath, where there is 49% more competition there now than there was in May 2021.

In second and third place are two northern hotspots, Carlisle (42%) and Newcastle (36%). London also appears with a 35% gain in buyer competition, followed by Oxford (33%), and another northern city, Chester (30%). Southampton (27%), St Albans (26%), Dundee (24%) and Cambridge (24%) follow.

Bannister adds that, on a national scale, although demand is “very slowly easing” now compared to the rush of last year, figures are still very high compared to 2019.

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