An aerial view of Manchester build-to-rent properties

Manchester and Liverpool remain top cities for house price growth

The UK housing market has been described as having “three speeds” as performance varies across the country, but Manchester and Liverpool continue to stand out. 

In Zoopla’s latest house price index, which showed that annual UK house price inflation was now at -0.5% based on its portal figures, a “three-speed housing market” was revealed. Essentially, various parts of the country are displaying different levels of performance and resilience, meaning the ‘average’ figure is not as important as looking specifically at certain areas.

While this has always been somewhat the case, it is particularly prominent now due to higher mortgage rates and cost of living pressures, which affect affordability and therefore buying power. This can cause demand in more expensive areas to wane, slowing down price growth, while more affordable locations become more desirable.

Zoopla splits the country into three distinct sections: southern England regions (east of England, south east and south west), where prices have fallen the most; London, where house price inflation is rebounding after a very weak seven years; and the rest of the UK, including the north and Midlands, which has seen the firmest price rises.

Scotland also falls into the ‘rest of the UK category’, and both Glasgow and Edinburgh are ahead of the rest – behind only Belfast at the top of the list – when it comes to year-on-year house price growth to January 2024. While Glasgow’s values increased by 2.4%, Edinburgh property had a 1.4% surge.

Manchester and Liverpool top for England

Honing in on England specifically, the two top-performing cities in terms of annual price growth were Liverpool and Manchester, where property prices increased by 1.1% and 0.8% respectively in the year to January. While this is down on last year’s figures of 6.3% and 6.4% respectively, the cities have the strongest outlook at the moment.

At the bottom of Zoopla’s list for annual growth were Southampton, where house prices dropped by -2.5%, Bournemouth with a -2.2% fall, and Portsmouth which lost an average of -2%.

Manchester and Liverpool are the two flagship cities of the north west, and have both received a huge level of interest from investors and developers in recent years.

The Liverpool Waters development has made huge strides in transforming and improving a large part of the city, increasing its desirability for students, workers, visitors and inhabitants. It has long since been a popular investment spot for property investors and buy-to-let landlords thanks to its high rental yields, and its ability to sustain property values ahead of the UK average is another draw.

Likewise, Manchester continues to be the subject of some major regeneration schemes, and the city has an evergreen appeal for students and graduates in particular – leading to high demand in the rental market in Manchester. The city’s population is forecast to continue to expand, keeping it a top option for property investors keen on the future prospects of a location.

A resilient housing market

While Zoopla’s data has not put annual house price growth in positive territory, its report points out that sales market metrics are up on 2023 levels across the board. This includes an 11% rise in buyer demand, a 15% jump in the number of sales agreed, a 10% increase in the flow of new supply, and a 21% jump in the stock of homes for sale.

Richard Donnell, executive director of research at Zoopla, said: “The housing market has proved very resilient to higher mortgage rates and cost of living pressures. More sales and more sellers shows growing confidence amongst households and evidence that 4-5% mortgage rates are not a barrier to improving market conditions.”

Looking specifically at the number of sales agreed – which is a good indicator of housing market health – Zoopla found that the top three locations to see the biggest increases in this measure were the north east (up by 17%), London (up by 16%) and the north west (up by 13%).

This boost in activity has been slowing down price falls, or causing them to rise, in a number of locations, and could be down to the more positive price growth seen in the likes of Manchester and Liverpool. Zoopla predicts that 2024 will end with 10% more sales than 2023, amounting to around 1.1 million.

BuyAssociation will keep you up-to-date with the latest property news, and if you’re looking to invest in Manchester, Liverpool or another top-performing location in the UK, get in touch with us today

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