Many of our clients are from out of area and want advice on the best areas to invest in the Wirral. When investors come to our offices for the first time we sit them down in front of the large Wirral wall map and discuss what the area is like, highlighting the areas that are probably of most interest.
Not everyone can make it to us in Hamilton Square, so for those investors from further afield here are the main highlights of my regular introduction to investing in the Wirral.
The peninsula is an oblong shape, roughly 15 miles long by 7 miles wide, bisected by the M53 motorway which runs north to south through the middle of the area. The major towns are Birkenhead and Wallasey to the east and Heswall and West Kirby to the west.
Although a bit of a generalisation, the east tends to be older, higher density and lower value properties whilst the west has larger higher value property. To get a higher yield from your investment property you should be looking in the east, and this is where we will be concentrating on this post.
Major areas of interest:
Central Birkenhead, around Laird St and Park Road North.
North Birkenhead (locals call it The North End), but selective parts only.
Tranmere, especially the area between the parks.
Rockferry and parts of New Ferry.
East of Wallasey and Liscard, but not Seacombe.
New Brighton, especially the south and older properties in the east.
Parts of the Noctorum, Beechwood and Woodchurch estates.
The Wirral is unusual in that it is fairly common to have some very high value property enclaves abutting run down areas and particularly difficult streets. Local knowledge is key to ensure you buy in the right areas to maximise your rent and avoid the known problem areas.
Contact Andrew@hamiltonsquareestates.com for more information
We have all heard a lot over the past months about the death of new build buy to let investment in the UK. Undoubtedly the second homes SDLT surcharge has caused investors to carefully consider the maths for new purchases. Likewise, the upcoming changes to the taxation of mortgage interest relief will cause many landlords with existing portfolios to reconsider their position. So with these changes already known, why is BTL still considered not just a viable, but a desirable investment?
My area of interest is the North West of England, particularly the areas around Manchester, Leeds and Merseyside. We presented a couple of investment seminars at this year’s Homeowner and Property Investor Show in Docklands Arena. They were standing room only, so we know there is plenty of interest from out of (our) area investors wanting to buy here. We also run tours for investors around the local area to highlight the vast range of projects currently underway (see Liverpool and Wirral Waters, the new Liverpool 2 port, China Town, Salford Quays, et al in my previous posts). We have around 2 groups a week here from London for our own Grand Tour – think Clarkson, Hammond and May but with fewer car crashes and more coffee.
The most regularly asked question is about the comparative returns available on new build between Manchester, Liverpool and Wirral, and what are the prospects for the 3 areas.
My own view is that they all have their own merits, depending on your aims. There is no space on this short post to go into too much detail, but in brief:
Manchester offers the widest range of existing high quality provision. The market for better quality apartments is more mature than the other areas, and the job prospects for the city are very good. Unfortunately this is reflected in the prices, with current new build 1 bed flats achieving around £2,100 per M2. Prices start around £110,000 per unit for mid-range developments on the periphery of the city centre. Rents are high compared to the wider region, but so are prices. Despite this gross yields are around 5.5%, with net yields of 4.2% in better quality new-build sites.
Liverpool has seen very rapid development, in the past 5 years particularly, driven by the rapidly improving local economy and some major infrastructure investments. Prices are still far below Manchester levels but rising quickly, as are rental rates – 1 bed flats close to the river regularly go for £685 pcm. If you are looking for an absolute bargain you are probably 18 months too late, although there are still some very good buys available if you know where to look. Prices range from £1,500 – £2,000 per M2, with the prices rising the closer you get to the River Mersey, particularly in the L1, L4 and L69 postcodes. Gross yields are averaging at 7%, or 5.6% net.
Wirral is still the wild west for new build investors. Until recently there was not much good quality stock to buy into, although things are now changing. A number of schemes are completing and there are other interesting developments in the pipeline around the Birkenhead and West Kirby areas in particular. The area benefits from being only 10 minutes by train from Liverpool centre. We see more people moving from Liverpool to Wirral to take advantage of the lower prices whilst still retaining access to the big city experience. Good quality stock goes for around £1,400 per M2. Gross yields are holding at 8.5%, Net around the 7.2% level.
So, who comes out top? For range of options Manchester is difficult to beat. If your target investment is only city centres then Liverpool is a very good bet, especially the area south of the Albert Dock and into the Baltic Triangle.
However, our winner is Birkenhead. Our view is that east Wirral in particular offers the best opportunity for price increases in the next 1 – 5 years, coming off its current low (some would say undervalued) base.
With low but rising prices and high yields, coupled with the 10 minute transit time to Liverpool city centre for both work and leisure, Birkenhead is our top tip for property investors in the region.
Liverpool city council says it is “looking very closely” at the wording of a government letter about its pioneering plan to force all landlords to sign up to a licensing scheme.
The council is the only one in the country to introduce a blanket licensing scheme – believed to apply to around 5,000 landlords who own 50,000 private sector rental properties. Under the scheme the council determines that any landlord to be granted a licence (for which the landlord pays up to £500 per property) must be a ‘fit and proper’ person.
As with the licensing schemes introduced in many other local authorities, Liverpool’s landlords have to meet a variety of conditions around fire, electric and gas safety; rectify disrepair issues; tackle pest infestations; keep the exterior in a good state of repair and deal with complaints about anti-social behaviour caused by tenants.
The scheme was introduced following a consultation which produced 2,000 responses; the council claims the significant majority of respondents were in favour.
However, the council has now received a letter from Brandon Lewis, minister for housing and planning, saying the blanket approach is flawed, and forces perfectly good landlords to pass the costs of the licences on to tenants. Any such scheme introduced from April 1 must receive ministerial approval first – but of course Liverpool’s is already underway.
The Liverpool Echo newspaper says the council suggests that so far 1,341 landlords who between them manage 5,870 properties have registered their details.
Wirral Borough Council are currently in the process of rolling out selective licensing for landlords in certain areas of the Wirral. These licenses have to be purchased and last for 5 years.
From Wirral Borough Council’s site: “The Council would also need to determine if the proposed licence holder was a ‘fit and proper’ person and suitable to manage properties before issuing a licence.”
The landlord will not need to go through costly training to pass the tests for these licenses, but they may have to make expensive changes to their properties to get them up to spec.
Hamilton Square Estates can help you with this. As your Managing Agents, we can act on your behalf, eliminating the time and expense of going through the training. We can also help make any changes needed to the property through our sister property development company – Wirral Property Group.
Please get in touch on email@example.com
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