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5 Places To Invest in Stoke & Staffordshire in 2021

Welcome to this article on what I perceive to be some areas to keep a keen eye on if you’re looking to invest in property in 2021. Of course you should carry out your own due diligence when assessing an area in which you look to invest and I shall not be held liable if you happen to purchase a property next door to a heavy metal rock band, somethings just cannot be foreseen. However equipping yourself with past data and the advice from those in the industry that you trust is always a wise move when making any investment decisions. 

In this article I will be outlining 5 of the areas that I will be closely monitoring in 2021, the reasons for which I will explain later. Choosing an investment property is completely subjective to an investor’s motivation, I have considered a whole host of indicators and stats when choosing these areas. Crime rate, capital growth, average affordability, investment into infrastructure, employment, proposed developments and finally, would it really be an up to speed summary if I hadn’t taken COVID 19 into account?

Before we jump in, if you’re wondering whether this year is a good year to invest in property then head over to another article I wrote where I make a ‘prediction’.

 

 

You may be surprised by some of these locations, lets get into it…. 

ST7 – Audley 

We’re starting this series in the countryside, but before you groan and grumble, hear me out!

We’re primarily focussing on Audley here but we have noticed very similar results in the neighbouring settlement of Bignall End.

There a number of reasons why these semi rural settlements present themselves as good investment areas. I will start with supply and demand as that is typically an overarching factor.

The rental demand is pretty good in most areas of the city so we can only really look at supply? The stock of rental properties in this sought after rural village is limited at best. Forget being fussy when it comes to internal decoration, taste and outdoor living space. If you’re looking to rent in Audley and the surrounding areas you’ll be lucky to be challenged with a choice that meets your criteria.

 

A client of ours recently purchased a property on Chester Road. With the erection of one of our ‘To Let’ boards mid refurb, we had a call come in and a tenant lined up months before the refurb was complete. That prospective tenant in question was merely relocating from Bignall end. It’s just one of those areas with good surrounding schools, well connected to the A500 and some genuinely good amenities accompanied with a village and community inspired culture. 

With COVID 19 still showing it’s face, I think it would be fair to add my comments on how I think this new age of living may further promote the ST7 area and a village like Audley. 

Out door space and green areas were one of the few releases we could utilise during the national lockdowns. It’s not hard evidence but as we elude to later in this article, rural areas saw the most growth in 2020.

Working from home, although I do believe as soon as they’re able to, employers will be wanting their staff to return to the office, there could have been an irreversible shift in the way we work. Self employed consultants or free lance workers no longer need a town centre office for meetings as zoom calls are the new norm (and much more efficient!)

The Stats

What’s better than some cold hard statistics where we can compare these areas apples for apples.

The Crime Rate per 1,000 residents is exceptionally low, of course always a benefit of living away from the hustle & bustle. 

A private rental stock of 8% supports my previous comments on the lack of available rental stock. Add to the equation the good average household income and you will understand why quality rental stock, comes at a premium rent.

From a top level assessment, the final metric you should pay particular attention to is the 3 year capital growth.

At 8% your asset worth £120,000 would typically have seen an increase in value of nearly £10,000! 

 

Summary

With a typical 2 bedroom terraced achieving annual growth of £3,000+ as well as a gross rent in the region of £6,600, you can see why this spot made my list. 

Additionally add in the low crime rate, desirability, future prospects and the important metric that you might visit the pub around the corner on a sunny day and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.

ST6 – Tunstall 

When compiling this list, I had to reassess the nominations several times over and Tunstall often left me thinking, really? Am I really including that? 

Run down, past it’s ‘glory’ days, in a state of disrepair with no real glimmer of hope of bouncing back. High (relatively) crime rate and low average household income, what is the appeal?

Well, I’m a big believer in a diversified portfolio and that is the only way you can see regular, continued growth with minimal risk. Tunstall and the surrounding ST6 areas would be my joker card, going against the bookies in an attempt to win big.

Okay, so that is a little far fetched but stick with me. Tunstall has some very exciting projects on the horizon and I have a feeling that buying whilst it’s still cheap might not be a bad way to diversify your portfolio.

 

Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone

Is the name of the up and coming, Manufacturing and industry empire that brings with it mass investment and employment opportunity.  

Comprising of 6 brownfield development sites running adjacent to the A500, totalling a massive 160 hectares of land. 4 of these developments are located within the boundaries of Tunstall, they are: 

Chatterley Valley East – 18.2 heactres and currently home to the distinguishable Genesis Centre.

Chatterley Valley West – 38 heactres of developable land with a master plan for 13 units of varying sizes from primarily warehousing to a retail park with drive-thru franchise facilities

Highgate/ Ravensdale – 38 hectares with development already established in the form of Tile Mountain distribution centre and showroom.

Tunstall Arrow – 4.2 hectares and winner of the regeneration project of the year 2019 (west midlands). With 5 already established units and a further plot with prospects of a car dealership or retail development. 

Aside from the proposed commercial developments, Tunstall offers a unique opportunity with good connectivity infrastructure, an influx of new-build residential properties and an ever-increasing list of major employers utilising the cheap and discarded brownfield sites.

The Stats

We’ve already touched on a lot of the statistics in the introduction of this area. A few remaining comments. 

Similar to our next area, ST7 ranks bottom of the ST postcodes when it comes to house prices and average household income. I think it’s safe to say that it cannot drop any lower, there will always be demand for the ‘the cheapest’. 

 

Summary

I don’t believe you will be surprised when I say Tunstall isn’t quite ‘there’ yet but the future is bright and I think it’s worth throwing a chip in the betting pile. If you are looking to invest in Tunstall or the surrounding areas be sure to do your due diligence and know the area. There are a few pockets where home ownership is high and thus crime and disrepair is low, I would target these areas. Get it wrong by a street or two and you could find yourself somewhere you’d rather not be. 

ST1 – Hanley

Heading south of the ST6 area you will stumble across it’s neighbouring and more metropolitan twin brother, ST1 also known as Hanley – ‘The City Centre’.

Like much of Stoke on Trent, once a bustling, workers city with busy highstreets and believe it or not, a nationally recognised nightlife, it could now be mistaken for a ghost town.

As the city centre of the area, it’s understandable that it’s suffered of late with retail businesses taking such a battering from online shopping. Add into the mix business rates, expensive rents and a sprinkle of poor parking options on top and you’ve baked yourself a bitter cake that small businesses simply cannot handle.

 

So why has Hanley and ST1 made it to the list of places to watch when investing in Staffordshire?

Investment, connectivity and opportunity. ST1 is similar to it’s northern brother, pretty ugly, skinny and at the wrong times and places, unsafe. 

However, cast away from the town centre and it is rife with opportunity. The council has focused a lot of it’s efforts (and investment) towards improving the south side of the town centre with developments such as,

Clayworks – the largest single apartment development in Stoke on Trent being host to 277 apartments.

Smithfield Development – Following the construction of Smithfield 1 and Smithfield 2, a 140-bed Hilton hotel was built with a ground-floor restaurant and first-floor meeting space. 

City Centre Regeneration Plan – a scheme to develop a 3,500 seater arena, a 200 bed 4-star hotel, a PRS scheme, a range of food and beverage outlets, leisure facilities and a multi-story car park.

 

As well as these exciting proposed developments, turn your attention to the surrounding retail and business parks and there’s even greater opportunity. 

Etruria Link Road – is another stage underway as apart of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise zone, connecting Festival park directly to the A500. 

Festival Park Phase 2 – also known as Etruria valley is set to develop a further 75 acres onto the already existing Festival park phase 1. Phase 1, 315 acres home to 600,00sqft of office and business use, 400,000 sqft of retail and leisure, a cinema, restaurants and a newly refurbished 4 star hotel. 

Festival park has already attracted the likes of Vodaphone, BET 365, Wade ceramics and DPD.

Summary

I’ve skipped the stats on this one because they tell a very similar story to that of Tunstall and ST6. The future is bright for Hanley but when and where is yet to be seen. There will be an influx of new-build apartments so I’d recommend you look to pitch yourself on the right side of town, offering the right product.

ST13 – Leek

We’re back in the country side, Staffordshire Moorlands this time to be exact and we find ourselves in ST13 – Leek. 

Now, I’ll hold my hands up, I’m not overly familiar with this area, why would you be? No major employers spring to mind, no A list celebrities I know of come from the area (I’m looking at you Robbie Williams for putting Burslem on the map), so why ST13? 

CAPITAL GROWTH – It’s not even close. ST13 has out performed all of the other ST postcodes on rising house prices by a country mile. 12% growth in the last 3 years is enviable for a neighbouring town, never mind if you’re from out of area!


 

So my thoughts on this area and what should you be looking out for?

Well, as I have mentioned previously in this article, there has been an increase in demand for green spaces, gardens and that much sought after ‘fresh air’. This area was performing well pre-Covid 19 (Yes, those were the days!) so I can only see the aftermath to follow from Covid 19 will only enhance the stats. 

This town is slightly different to our first rural recommendation as it is far more secluded and self-sufficient. The occupants here are far less likely to be commuting into the city because let’s be honest, it’s a fair old commute. 

So what is it that’s so attractive? Well a quick search on a map and you will see that Leek is conveniently the last stop of human habitation before venturing into the wilderness that is the peak district. A sumptuous playground for all those that enjoy the great outdoors, exceptionally busy in summer, overwhelmingly when there’s a global pandemic at large.

With this tourist hotspot on your doorstep but the convenience of stores, restaurants and coffee shops, wrapped up in a quaint and historic setting, you can’t help but feel the magnetic desirability. 

The Stats

As you will see, the average asking price for a 3 bedroom property in this area is significantly higher than all of our other recommended areas, what do you expect, they’ve been going up 4% every year! 

So will your typical buy to let work here? Probably, but I believe there are some bigger opportunities at large if you’re up for something more creative. 

The low crime rate, village atmosphere and tranquil setting makes this place desirable but the higher asking prices means to me that homeowners will pay a premium to live here, especially with the way things are moving. 

An extensive property refurb or development to a high specification could see the city slickers lured by the combination of the latest mod cons but with only tweeting birds as their neighbours. 

Another option could be the serviced accommodation industry, AirBnB to the rest of us. Tap into a niche, run a tightship and you could find this to be a very lucrative market. I don’t believe you would argue with me if I said the ‘Staycation’ industry is set for continuing growth. 

Summary

Outdoors, check. Greenspace, check. Character filled town centre, check. Tourism magnet, check.

It might not be the spot for a Buy 2 Let, House of multiple Occupation or sardine can style block of flats. Roll out Higher end ‘flips’, serviced accommodation or tasteful developments and you might be on to something.

ST16 – North Stafford 

Here we are, the final stop of this rollercoaster property investing journey. Stafford, often overlooked as an investment area as ‘Stoke’ seems to be a buzzword on property investing forums and networks. 

Like most counties, Staffordshire has a sample of everything from the rich to the poor. You can fetch a 3 bedroom property on one street for £150,000, pick it up and move it half a mile in another direction and you’d be adding another 50-70% onto the value. 

Stafford has all of these variants and diversities all within it’s own settlement boundary, so you need to tread carefully and be sure you know your areas. 

This brings us to ST16 – North Stafford, what I would describe as a pleasant intermediary with good connectivity, investment opportunities but still affordable in the right areas. 

 

Stafford Station Gateway

Let’s start with the big announcements… A £500 million scheme to develop the train station and potentially see a hotel, top of the range office space and new homes all thanks to Stafford being apart of the HS2 railway plan.

Developers have also shown interest in building a further 650 apartments, 150 houses and a 1400 space carpark. 

These plans are all speculative but with HS2 approaching, I can only see interest from large developers and leisure chains continuing to grow. 

The direct train link to London currently takes 1hr 20 minutes, pretty good and definitely commutable. With the introduction of the High Speed railway network, the direct link will be cut to a mere 50 minutes! The opportunity this presents in itself is enough to let your imagination run wild. 

Current Developments

As well as grand plans and exciting schemes, North Stafford has seen significant investment into housing and industry in recent years. Thanks to the excellent connectivity to the M6 Motorway (Junction 14). Developments such as Red Hill Business park have attracted substantial employers to the area, it is estimated this business park alone could supply upto 2,500 jobs.

As a part of their ‘Masterplan’ Stafford borough council have also attracted national housebuilders to the area. A plan for 2,000 homes and 2 schools is underway in a bid to meet the council’s allocated housing requirement for 2031.  

 

The Stats

With an average household income of £41,500 it tops the scale of the ST postcodes, number 1 if you exclude the surrounding rural areas where the population is low. 

A house here is typically going to cost you more than those in central Stoke but you can expect good tenant demand with improved affordability and employment prospects. 

A crime rate of 109 per 1,000 is low considering this is a built-up area hosting a decent population. 

Finally, the area has seen strong, inflation-beating house price growth of 10% in the last 3 years. 

Summary

Yes, an investment here is most likely going to cost you more but with a bigger price tag comes bigger gains in terms of capital growth. 

You won’t be dependent on one source of employment when building your tenant avatar and the future plans for the area are bright. 

Choose your street wisely and pick up a good deal here and I think it could be one of the best moves you make. 

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Can’t wait? Head over to another recent blog post where I give my ‘2021 Market Prediction’ 

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