There’s a “unique opportunity” for property investors to help boost the housing provision that is currently lacking in Birmingham, as the city’s economic outlook goes from strength to strength.
A new report issued by Knight Frank has highlighted the fact that the supply of new homes in Birmingham is falling short of housing need in the city, as its population continues to grow due to a number of factors.
The city has a particularly high graduate retention rate, with around 41% of graduates choosing to remain in the city, while there has also been a surge in “high earners” migrating from London to Birmingham in recent years: according to Experian, the number of people moving in who earn more than £70,000 was up 26% last year.
Meanwhile, more pressure too is being added to the rental market, with the latest Census data from 2021 showing that 22.6% of households in Birmingham rent privately, compared with 17.9% in 2011. This heightened demand in both the homeowner and rental sectors make the city a key target for investment at the moment.
House price performance stronger than London
Knight Frank’s research reveals that, on average, house prices in the Midlands city have performed more strongly than those of the capital for the past five years, and particularly in the years since the pandemic hit in 2020.
The city saw a notable rise in housing demand in the post-Covid period due to the so-called “race for space”, as more people chose to leave London during this time and seek a better quality of life elsewhere. This has largely continued, exacerbated by the cost of living crisis which has made the capital less affordable for many.
However, while Birmingham’s house prices have continued to rise, the report points out that affordability pressures are being “less acutely felt” than elsewhere in the UK. For example, the median house price to workplace earnings ratio in London is 12.5, while in Birmingham it is just 6.3, according to the ONS.
The demand-supply imbalance
In 2022-2023, housing delivery in the Midlands city is expected to fall short by about 3,243 homes, with an annual housing need of an estimated 7,136. This indicates that prices are likely to remain buoyed by the level of demand exceeding supply.
Anna Ward, an associate in Knight Frank’s research team, says: “Despite there being a few months remaining of 2023, the fact that housing delivery is currently 60 per cent below the city’s annual housing target is a stark reminder of the supply, demand imbalance in Birmingham.
“It is reassuring to see plenty of ambitious schemes in the pipeline which will also bring forward new commercial development and jobs, but this only underscores the need to build more homes as the city’s economy and workforce expands.”
Birmingham economy will “grow significantly”
Over the next 10 years, Birmingham’s already strong economy is forecast to grow significantly, as more big businesses – including finance and tech firms – relocate from London, bringing with them more professionals on higher salaries and creating a new level and quality of housing need.
In 2023, the report points out that Birmingham’s Gross Value Added (GVA) was £27.8bn, and the current projection from Oxford Economics is that this will increase by 16% to £31.8bn by 2033 – compared with the 15% UK average. This huge growth will benefit today’s investors in the city, as employment prospects for those who live there also improve.
The report adds: “Residential investors and developers have a unique and significant opportunity to provide much-needed high-quality accommodation in a city with limited stock.”
As Will Jordan, a partner and head of Birmingham residential development at Knight Frank, points out, Birmingham is already leading the way as a major regional city, “attracting forward thinking developers and investors looking for opportunities within the build to rent and open sales markets”.
He adds: “With the increase in choosing to migrate to Birmingham from other parts of the UK, there is a huge opportunity to invest in the residential sector and meet soaring demand. There is so much untapped potential and it’s exciting to play a part in a city which is continuously evolving.”
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