If you ask anyone who hails from Norwich what makes this part of the UK so special, there is a good chance that they will have plenty to say. Norwich was named the ‘Best in the East’ in The Times’ Best Places to Live 2020 and now people are clamouring to buy property in the city.
An article recently published in The Telegraph explains how Norwich has become a surprising property hotspot, describing the area as “a small city with a big personality.” So, what is it about Norwich that makes it such an in-demand place to live?
History of Norwich
Norwich is a city with a lot of character and a rich history spanning 900 years. Norwich’s impressive cathedral is one of many examples of the stunning historic architecture. In the 11th century, Norwich was arguably on a par with London, with a successful wool trade running out of the city, supplied by surrounding areas of Norfolk. Norwich Market was the largest open-air market in the country during the 11th century and the city still has a very popular market area.
As well as having a great history, the city of Norwich has an average age of under 34 and is one of the most eco-friendly cities in the UK, with carbon emissions reduced by 45% since 2008 and more people cycle and walk to work than in most other areas of the country.
The location of Norwich also makes it a very attractive place to live. Just a short drive to the coast, people living in Norwich can enjoy days at their choice of beach in the summer and there are many beaches within an hour’s drive to choose from! The scenic Norfolk countryside is also easy to explore from Norwich, with this part of the UK being quite rural for a city. East Anglia is fairly isolated from the rest of the UK, with no land north or south of it, therefore no busy motorways running through it.
While this appeals to many people, it does make Norwich a lot more difficult to commute from, so most people looking to buy a property in Norwich would work locally. Getting to London, for example, usually takes over 2 hours on the train, so it is not a realistic option to commute daily, if you are looking for any semblance of work life balance. Although with the current rise in remote working, even if your employer isn’t based in Norwich, living here is not out of the question.
Community and Culture
There is a lot going on in Norwich, when Covid-19 is not restricting activities. There are lots of festivals and there is a wealth of cultural activities, such as exhibitions, theatre performances and sporting events. There are three museums, four independent theatres and the impressive Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
Norwich is often described as having a strong community spirit and it has previously been named the safest place to live in the UK. The city also boasts a great selection of restaurants, bars and pubs, so there are plenty of entertainment and socialising options.
In Norwich, a lot of employment is based in the financial services sector or food and drink, Aviva and Greene King PLC are the biggest employers in the area. Tourism is also quite a successful industry in Norwich, with the 2020 trend for staycations boosting the local tourism industry. At the end of 2019, unemployment rates in the East of England were lower than most other regions at 3.279, which compares favourably to the UK average of 3.819.
How Covid-19 Has Affected House Hunting Trends
One of the house hunting trends that has emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic is that people are increasingly searching for places to live that have more space and that are away from busy cities.
Due to lockdown, a lot of people have been looking to buy property in areas where they can enjoy exercising outdoors without travelling far. Norwich offers the amenities of a big city, without the noise and pollution. It is surrounded by countryside and coastal areas, so it is easy to see why more people are house hunting there.
Property Value For Money
According to Zoopla, buyer demand in Norwich was up 56% in July compared to the previous year, with similar margins reported in August too. Estate agents have commented that people are looking for larger properties with a garden since lockdown.
When compared to most distant suburbs of London, house prices in Norwich are much more affordable, which is another reason people are taking the opportunity to buy property here. The average house price is currently £221,000 which is 2.6% higher than a year earlier, according to Zoopla.
With more people who were based in London now working from home most days, the possibility of living a few hours out of the capital, with occasional travel into the office is more realistic.
The University of East Anglia is based in Norwich, with a student population of around 15,000. This demographic makes up a large proportion of accommodation provided through the buy-to-let market. Prior to lockdown, landlords have been very successful through renting properties to students and commanding attractive rental yields.
At the other end of the property scale, the most sought-after properties are in the city’s “Golden Triangle” where prices range from £250,000 for a Victorian terrace up to £1.5m for the grander properties.
Thorpe St Andrew and Thorpe are very popular with families, where properties are large enough to accommodate a growing family, while still remaining affordable.
What To Look For When Buying a Property
Whether you are looking at buying property in Norwich or anywhere else, there are a number of key factors you should consider when searching. As well as thinking about how much space you ideally want and whether the property comes with a good-sized garden, you should also consider whether the property is likely to hold its value. At the moment, house prices have been at an all-time high, but property experts are expecting a crash at some point in the near future.
If you were to buy a property in the current market, a crash could leave you in negative equity. So, rather than going for properties that are trending right now in terms of purchases, look for properties that have held their value well over time. You should do adequate research on Zoopla to make sure you are not paying over the odds for a property compared to other local properties.
Transport links can be important but only if you travel a lot. Somewhere like Norwich does not have great transport links but if you plan on working nearby and socialising in the area, transport will not be a priority for you, but you should consider whether your circumstances could change.
For families or people looking to start families in the future, the quality of schools in the area will be important, as will looking for places with parks and other places for children to play. If you find a property you like, before you put an offer in, try and visit the street at different times of day. There might be more noise at night than you expected from your daytime viewing.
Applying For a Mortgage
Before you start looking at properties, it is a good idea to search for a mortgage deal and get an agreement in principle, so that you know how much a lender will be prepared to loan to you. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time looking at properties outside of your price range. One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is that many lenders have made their lending criteria stricter, which could leave many buyers in the position where they are unable to obtain a mortgage.
Using a mortgage broker helps people to find mortgage deals that are not available directly, so even if you have had a mortgage application turned down by a lender, you might still be able to get a mortgage through a broker.
If you are looking for a property in the Norfolk area, just like many other people are right now, using a mortgage broker will help you to find the best deal for your financial situation. Using a broker can also speed the mortgage application process up, which could be crucial if you are trying to buy before the stamp duty holiday ends. You might also want to use a broker to speed the process up to avoid missing out on finding and purchasing your dream property in Norwich or other parts of Norfolk, as so many people are currently trying to buy in this area.
Boon Brokers is based in Norwich and our mortgage team has expert knowledge of the local area and housing market, so we can help you to find the mortgage you need to buy your ideal property in this highly sought-after part of the UK.
Boon Brokers are different to most brokers in Norwich as we do not charge client fees at any stage for mortgage services. Our advisors have whole-of-market access to lenders in the UK.
Request a free call back and we can have a chat to get started.