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Heaton Embraces The Yankee Dollar

Monday February 13, 2017

The election of Donald Trump, uncertainty surrounding Brexit (sorry, that will be the last mention of the B word) and a cash strapped city Council have combined to provide an unlikely boost to our own ‘hip and trendy Heaton’ to quote a recent airing of Channel 4 show Location, Location, Location.

With the pound currently at a 30 year low, investment by US citizens in the UK private rental sector is an attractive proposition, especially outside London’s overheated bubble. Heaton is perfectly placed to take advantage of new cash which will help build upon an already vibrant resurgence of the area.

The student accommodation blocks springing up on almost every brown field site within walking distance of our universities mean that many multi occupancy properties, the traditional grotty student flat, are experiencing increasing difficulty in finding willing student tenants.

Frequently landlords who have failed to invest now cannot raise the cash to invest so their only opportunity is to cut their losses and sell. Step forward the oversea investor with deep pockets who will commit to the necessary outlay, turning run down student accommodation into highly viable lets for young professionals.

These young professionals are attracted to the refurbished properties for a number of reasons. For some, student debt means they are far away from that first step onto the property ownership ladder. For others, in the early stages of their career they might be moved across the country at short notice so renting is an easier option than selling a property they own.

Our Council continues to be squeezed in the name of austerity and they simply do not have the money to build. Private sector developers frequently avoid the need to include social housing in large scale developments and even when they do include a proportion, their definition of ‘affordable housing’ can often be called into question.

These factors combine to make resurgent neighbourhoods like Heaton an attractive proposition to the foreign investor but should we be alarmed at this sudden influx of offshore cash? Personally I feel the opposite – we should welcome it.

Heaton is no stranger to landlords who live outside the north east. These are not ‘absentee landlords’, they are merely landlords who live elsewhere in the UK and employ a local managing agent to take care of business. In our shrinking and interconnected world how is this different to a landlord who happens to call the USA home? Investment in housing is the lifeblood of a community and so long as the legalities are observed we must welcome it.

Besides inward overseas investment benefiting Heaton and its resurgence, we might spare a thought for those US investors trying to identify us on an online map? The election of Mr Trump may well prove that US citizens are living in ‘interesting times’. If so, I would remind them of the words of my favourite Chinese philosopher Mencius who, in the 3rd century BC said “Secure property in hand leads to peace in mind”.

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