A campaign has been launched to make Bristol the colour capital of the UK by ensuring that more homes are painted across this vibrant city.
Bristol’s iconic rows of colourful houses already dominate the skyline in many areas of the city including Totterdown and Easton, and now Stride Treglown, an architectural practice based in Clifton, wants to see more streets transformed with creativity.
The company is urging residents to brighten up their streets by painting the exterior of their properties any shade which takes their fancy, with a view to increasing their appeal.
This campaign to get people to jazz up their homes reflects the flourishing independent spirit that exists in Bristol, as reflected by the cutting-edge graffiti art decorating the city’s walls, including some of famous graffiti artist Banksy’s oldest works.
The eventful history of Bristol, coupled with its rich culture, has helped to make it one of the UK’s happiest places to live as well as one of the best areas to a raise a family thanks to good schools and secure communities, which appeals to a wide array of buyers, from young families and students to buy-to-let investors.
“The area is popular with all kinds of homebuyers from those looking for their first home through to growing families,” said Andrea Pilgrim (right), sales director at Barratt Homes in Bristol.
An increasing number of Londoners are also now moving from the capital to Bristol where the cost of living is significantly cheaper in comparison.
Record high prices in the capital, and a quest for cheaper homes in regional cities, saw Bristol become the most searched-for locations outside of London this year, according to research from Rightmove.
“The high price of inner London and parts of outer London means that many will look further afield, having initially searched for options in London on Rightmove, seeing what they can or cannot get for their money,” said Miles Shipside (left), director of Rightmove.
The fact that a new high-speed rail service will cut the journey from Bristol to Paddington by 22 minutes from 2018 only serves to add to its appeal.
However, the city is popular in its own right, with a housing market that remains robust despite the outcome of the recent EU referendum.
Adam Offer, managing director of Besley Hill estate agents, told the press: “The property market in Bristol is still very strong despite Brexit, with demand continuing to exceed supply of suitable homes to both buy and to let.
“With excellent levels of employment our vibrant city continues to draw people and they need somewhere to live – it is as simple as that! I expect the late summer and Autumn markets to continue to thrive and there is simply no let up in demand.”
But while activity continues to pick up, a severe shortage of properties has resulted in significantly fewer homes on the market, which is placing upward pressure on house prices.
Prices continue to climb
The latest data from Hometrack, which monitors residential property prices in 20 UK cities, shows that Bristol has been the fastest growing city over the last 12 months, with overall house price growth up 14% year-on-year to an average of £254,500 compared with a UK average of £240,000.
“Bristol’s continued strong price growth highlights an ongoing trend of demand among buyers for properties in towns and cities that are home to excellent transport links, schools and amenities,” said Oliver Knight (right), associate at Knight Frank Research.
“Our figures show a 17% increase in the volume of new buyer registrations in the second quarter of this year versus the same period in 2015 and a 19% rise in viewings over this time,” he added.
In a number of the main hubs for prime sales in Bristol, prices in excess of £500 sq ft are now being achieved for some homes in areas like Redland, Cotham, Kingsdown, Stoke Bishop and Clifton.
James Toogood, based in Knight Frank’s Bristol office, said: “Bristol continues to see growth, with sales being achieved to buyers far and wide. The city’s geographical location and the diversity of the city allows it to appeal to all types of buyers and with the underlying shortage of stock and an increase in registered buyers, we cannot see growth slowing.”
A victim of its own success
With Bristol’s population forecast to increase by 41,000 people by 2025, it is estimated that the wider Bristol area requires at least 85,000 new homes by 2036 to keep pace with demand.
But with an average of approximately 3,000 homes being delivered a year in the area this will lead to a shortfall of at least 1,234 homes every year if current building levels continue.
“With demand continuing unabated more new developments need to be rapidly brought forward to keep the supply-demand dynamic in balance,” said George Cardale, head of residential development sales at Savills.
Since the changes made to Permitted Development Rights in 2013, Bristol has seen the highest number of planning applications granted for office to residential conversions outside of London, according to Savills, as developers seek higher returns by converting redundant office space into more valuable homes.
But while office to residential conversations activity has picked up, a severe office shortage has culminated in significantly fewer offices on the market, which in turn is driving up values in the commercial property sector.
Commercial capital values in Bristol are now exceeding residential in several locations in the face of ongoing demand from occupiers, according to the research by Savills.
This is leading to some schemes in the city now being more profitable as office use rather than residential, despite increasing demand for housing.
Bristol’s rapidly growing population means that aside from more new homes, it also needs up to 1.4 million sq ft of new office space to accommodate the 14,000 or so new office based jobs that are due to be created in the city within a decade.
However, at current take up rates there is only a year’s worth of Grade A office space in the city centre before demand begins to outstrip supply.
“Bristol is a great place to both live and work but it is at risk of becoming a victim of its own success, with prospective residents and businesses looking to locate elsewhere unless it rapidly develops more office space and homes to keep up with demand”, said Susan Emmett (above right), director, Savills Research.
Strong leadership needed
There is a good chance that Bristol will be better equipped to increase much needed housing supply as well as office space, among other benefits, once a new combined authority for the region is formed, which includes South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, according to JLL.
Paul Baker, director at JLL in Bristol, believes that the new set-up will provide the region with the strong leadership required to enable a more strategic approach to planning, housing and transport, which is the sort of thing that you will want to hear if you are actively selling or letting properties in the region.
Baker said: “It is welcome news that we are moving a step closer to a new combined authority. Subject to a final decision by the councils in September after a period of consultation and approval by the government in October, we could see a new combined authority created next April and elections held in May for a new metro-style mayor.”
The change will mean that local decision makers will take over powers from Whitehall covering transport, investment, funding, skills training, business support, housing and strategic planning.
This would give them more control over the way issues of particular strategic importance such as transport, housing and planning are handled. These are areas that could benefit from some more joined-up thinking, according to Baker.
He continued: “The key thing that will be needed is strong leadership from a new metro-style mayor who will need to carefully, but boldly, navigate his or her way through any challenges with regard to competing pressures in order to fulfil the potential of the region.”
Good opportunities for landlords
Strong demand for rental property in Bristol has seen rents rise sharply, with rents on new tenancies signed last year rising by 18%, which was more than any other part of the UK, according to data from the HomeLet Rental Index.
There has been a moderation in the rate at which rents have increased this year, but the sector overall has continued to see strong demand, presenting good investment opportunities for buy-to-let landlords in Bristol.
While prime central locations, such as Clifton or the harbourside, typically command the highest rental values, they generally offer lower than average yields as a consequence of high purchase prices.
Buy-to-let investors seeking higher returns may wish to consider buying property in emerging locations on the outskirts of Bristol, in places like Easton or Bedminster, for instance.
Alternatively, they may wish to take a look at Bristol’s lucrative student rental market.
Chestertons recently named Bristol as the second most rewarding UK city after Edinburgh, based on house prices, rents, growth in local housing markets, and rental demand from students, thanks to the city’s two major universities in the city.
“Student lets are generally seen as a great investment; there will always be a reliable level of demand and universities can often be really helpful in pointing students your way,” said Daniel Killick of Chestertons.
Although the full impact of the Brexit decision on the property market will not be known for some time, early indications are that Bristol is well positioned to weather the storm.
Bristol has seen a real upsurge that should continue to grow in the near future, supported by improving household confidence, a strong local economy, an expanding population, wide scale infrastructure and transport network improvements, record low mortgage rates, strong demand and solid activity in both the sales and rental market.
So regardless of whether homeowners do or don’t opt to give their homes a fresh lick of paint as part of Stride Treglown’s campaign to make Bristol the colour capital of the UK, the future looks bright for Bristol as far as its housing market is concerned.
*Marc Da Silva is Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today Features Editor. You can follow him on Twitter @propertyjourno