Buying a home: 2017 guide to where to live in Liverpool
Despite the challenges the property market has faced over the last 10 years or so, owning bricks and mortar has remained high on the list of priorities for many people. But while you may be certain you want to get on the property ladder, knowing where to live in Liverpool while you’re house hunting is a different matter.
From commercial district pads and in-demand waterside properties, to plush detached homes and everything in between, as cliched as it sounds there is something for everyone in the city. This handy guide to some of the most sought-after areas will help you narrow down your dream location.
Words by Christine Toner
According to the latest figures from Connells Survey & Valuation the number of first-time buyers getting onto the housing ladder was up 21% in January, compared to the same month last year. And Liverpool is no exception.
“Early January has seen a very strong market, with first-time buyers being especially keen to purchase their new home,” Nicki Boyle, senior sales negotiator at Bluerow Homes, recently told Your Move. “Liverpool and the surrounding areas are proving very popular, with favourable mortgage rates encouraging people to take the plunge.
“Of course, there is still some uncertainty over Brexit, although this does not seem to have had an adverse effect on the local property market to date. We are confident that the market will continue to improve as the year goes on.”
And when it comes to choosing an area for your very first home it seems familiarity is key.
“First-time buyers are citywide,” says David Burns, owner of Abode. “Typically they are buying where they’ve been raised. If they were students and studied here then it’s typically South Liverpool, Allerton Road or the Penny Lane area.”
Of course, one thing often dictates location more than anything else – finances. Although available to both first-time buyers and existing homeowners, the Help to Buy equity loan scheme is a firm favourite with those who are new to the housing market. According to government figures 80% of buyers using the scheme are first-time buyers. And with the option only available on new builds this can limit the choice of location for users.
Help to Buy is currently available at a number of developments across the city and more schemes are expected in 2017. This year will see Redrow launch Regency Manor, West Derby in March, Countryside launch Highfield Green in Kirkby and Forth Homes launch Wellington Grove in Huyton with Roby.
The scheme allows both first-timers and existing homeowners to purchase a new build property with just a 5% deposit. The government will offer 20% of the purchase price as an equity loan, allowing the buyer to get a deposit at 75% loan-to-value (LTV). The lower the LTV the more likely you are to get a good mortgage rate.
The equity loan is interest free for the first five years, after which interest is charged at 1.75%, rising in line with Retail Price Index inflation plus 1%.
New builds are often attractive to first-time buyers because of the lack of work required on the property. In many cases buyers can also choose the decor for their home as it is being built, provided they purchase early enough.
“Our research is telling us that people want places with the infrastructure that they’ll use and which animates the streetscape.”
It makes sense that existing homeowners tend to look for larger properties as they move up the ladder. The ‘starter’ home doesn’t always accommodate growing families, for example. Furthermore, as homeowners get older and progress in their careers they often have the means to move to a more expensive property, perhaps with better features.
“Most movers tend to want a garden driveway if they haven’t got one already, normally for planning the family,” says David Burns. “There’s also the quest for schools they like, so the suburbs of Allerton, Calderstones, Childwall, Aigburth, Woolton are popular – typically anywhere there’s a concentration of semis with gardens and driveways to suit.”
Louis Anastasiou, managing director of Andrew Louis, agrees the suburbs are a firm favourite with families who tend to seek “gardens, and a driveway for off-road parking in areas with good schools”.
Schools are certainly a key factor for many second steppers. A Redrow survey found 72% of parents thought a good school was important when house hunting.
Crosby is also a favourite for families. In fact last year the Sunday Times named the suburb in its Best Places to Live in Britain supplement, as one of the top 12 North West locations.
Ready to retire
Some years ago the phrase ‘retirement property’ might have conjured up images of sheltered accommodation, cosy and traditional decor and quiet locations but that’s not necessarily the case anymore. The way in which we view retirement has changed so it’s only natural that the properties retirees are seeking change too.
“We’ve seen an increasing trend for retirees, and those close to retirement, selling their former family homes in the suburbs and moving into the city,” says Debra Beach, branch manager at Keppie Massie. “Several prestigious buildings with waterfront views offer secure apartment living with a sought-after contemporary vibe.”
Debra says the lure of city centre life and its offer is drawing retirees to apartments.
“They are attracted by city life – eateries, theatre and the social scene – and have the option to ‘lock up and leave’ if they wish to go off holidaying or adventuring,” she adds.
Bungalows remain a firm favourite with older buyers too, not least because of the practicalities they offer.
“We see retirees hunting for bungalows and apartments,” says David Burns. “Many will look to Woolton and Gateacre. A lot downsize into new builds as they’re more efficient and involve less maintenance.”
Bigger budget buyers
If you’re lucky enough to be able to look to the higher end of the market there are plenty of locations to choose from – some of which will take you across the Mersey to Wirral.
Regularly featured in most expensive and most desirable lists, there are a handful of areas in Wirral which are hugely popular with more affluent buyers.
In a Royal Mail study of the most desirable places to live in the country, no less than three Wirral postcodes featured in the top 10. Bebington, Eastham and Wallasey were all praised for their high calibre schools, high employment and the quality of life they offer.
“Many people choose to buy in Wirral for lifestyle, and there are options in abundance in the special peninsula if you’re looking at investing substantially in a property,” says Shaun Carlton, senior branch manager at Karl Tatler.
“For community living, Heswall is popular and conveniently located with close motorway access and a plethora of local bars, restaurants, shops and supermarkets. Here you also overlap into the great outdoors with Heswall Dales and spectacular views overlooking the River Dee coastline. It’s the perfect place to raise a young family, or to kick back in enjoyable retirement.
“The seaside village of West Kirby is another bustling, popular and highly sought-after area with plenty to keep you entertained. Just overlooking West Kirby is Caldy with irresistibly perfect homes where it’s not uncommon to spot a celebrity or two in the affluent neighbourhood.
“If peace and tranquillity is your desire, then the rural settings of Thornton Hough, Burton, Raby Mere and Puddington offer some quite wonderful houses and bungalows in beautifully pleasant surroundings.”
On this side of the river South Liverpool and Crosby once again make an appearance.
According to property portal Rightmove average house prices in Crosby are £211,447, in Allerton, £235,280 and in Woolton £220,393. The average price in Liverpool as a whole is £149,343 while areas like Walton and Anfield come in much lower at £88,661 and £64,894 respectively.
Of course, one can’t compile a list of areas for affluent and high end buyers without giving a nod to Formby. Home to some of the most expensive streets in the UK, residents benefit from a village atmosphere, independent shops, restaurants and bars and miles of stunning coastline.
Investing for student offspring
Today’s generation of students wants all mod cons, WiFi is an absolute must and, in many cases, sharing a bathroom with three or four other people is not acceptable.
The student population in Liverpool – and, more specifically, where it’s based – has changed a lot in recent years. The city has long been a hotspot for students moving away from home and today there are around 70,000 living here. But the traditional student areas are starting to be replaced.
“Students typically looked to the Smithdown Road and Penny Lane area traditionally although most are migrating to purpose-built units in the city centre,” says Abode’s David Burns.
It seems while the lively atmosphere of Smithdown Road still attracts students it is the nightlife and facilities, not to mention the quality of the accommodation, in the city centre that is most enticing. And developers – and landlords – are aware of that.
Unsurprisingly then, 2017 could see a host of new student developments come to Liverpool city centre. Plans have recently been submitted to Liverpool City Council to demolish Hardman House on Hardman Street and replace it with a seven-storey residential complex, including 90 student accommodation cluster apartments offering a range of one, two, three and four-bedroom flats.
Parents looking to invest in property for their student children can purchase a ‘unit’ in a purpose built student development but many prefer to opt for a property that could be used for general residential purposes once uni days are over.
City professionals are spoilt for choice in Liverpool. New developments are springing up every month and conversions that take office blocks or warehouse space and create trendy city centre living are increasingly common.
Just last month when the Drury House office building on Water Street was brought to the market the residential potential of the property was highlighted by agent Hitchcock Wright & Partners. Pre-application approval is already in place offering the capability to create 141 contemporary residential apartments.
“There is a growing demand for high end city centre apartments and luxury accommodation for the city’s burgeoning tourist market,” says Brian Ricketts, partner at Hitchcock Wright & Partners.
Waterfront properties have long been a firm favourite of young professionals. The area surrounding Liverpool Marina, south of Albert Dock, has been popular with city dwellers for some time while on the north side the area surrounding Princes Dock has grown in popularity in recent years. Another location where demand from city dwellers has soared in recent years is the Baltic Triangle.
“Our research is telling us that people want places with the infrastructure that they’ll use and which animates the streetscape,” says Elliot Lawless, director of developer Elliot Group. “Cafés, bars, hairdressers, restaurants, delis – the sort of stuff that can really define a neighbourhood and gives it its ‘feel’ at street level.
“They don’t mind walking into the heart of the city, which is why areas like Baltic and the north shore are taking off. And they don’t mind if the neighbourhood isn’t finished, either – being pioneers is part of the buzz for many: feeling that they ‘discovered’ an area and were part of its transformation.
“City core, particularly in the historic business district, will always be popular and there’s a segment of the market that will pay a premium to be around Castle Street or Water Street.”