The UK’s housing market is continuing to grow at a slow but steady pace, indicating the end of volatility at least in the medium-term, but some regional cities are expected to buck the trend with stronger rental and house price growth.

A residential research report released by JLL has singled out Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds as the “ones to watch” over the next five years, as it expects them to outperform other cities in the UK.

The report notes: “All the main cities in northern England – Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, have seen resurgent sales and rental markets in recent years.

City living has gained strong momentum in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds over the past three years and, together with an active student market, has pushed demand in both the sales and lettings markets notably higher.”

Manchester

Labelled the “shining beacon” of the north of England, Manchester is expected to be the frontrunner in the north-west between now and 2022 in terms of its economic output, which is predicted to grow by 2.7% per year. Over the past 12 months, the city’s housing market has seen huge growth, along with higher levels of investment into the build-to-rent sector as this market segment becomes increasingly important with the rise in relatively affluent young professionals in city centres.

As the report points out, around 50% of graduates who studied in Manchester stay on in the city afterwards and get jobs, which is the highest level seen outside London and a major indication of the strength of the city’s economy as well as job and housing market.

The prediction from JLL is that average house prices in Manchester will grow by 4.2% per year over the next five years, well above the UK’s average forecast of 2.4%.

Leeds

Of the approximately 10,000 residential properties in Leeds city centre, around 75% are privately rented. The demographic of students, graduates, and successful young professionals flocking to Leeds has led to a major upsurge in the number of build-to-rent developments in the city, with around 3,500 existing units and 2,000 more in the immediate pipeline.

According to the report, “the premium tier of rental demand…is currently completely underserved”, meaning huge opportunities for investors and buy-to-let landlords looking to diversify into this sector.

Rental values are expected to increase by 3.5% per year over the next five years, pushed up by demand, bringing Leeds out as the top performer in Yorkshire, and the north as a region. Meanwhile, property prices are forecast to grow by an average of 3.7% per year until 2022, again bucking the national trend.

In economic terms, Leeds is expected to expand by 2% per year between 2018 and 2022, higher than the rest of northern England which is predicted to see a 1.7% rise.

Liverpool

Like Leeds, Liverpool has seen huge build-to-rent investment over the past 12 months, while the city itself has been improving in terms of its population, employment levels and economy for several years now. Current developments include The Keel, Baltic Village, The Lexington, The Hive and The Strand, which have been targeted by major investors.

As an important university city, there is scope for investors to target students as well as graduates and young professionals, and build-to-rent net yield is currently one of the highest in the north at an estimated 5% on average.

New development sales prices are expected to perform well over the next five years, with average price growth of 3.6% per year outperforming the national average, after prices surged by an average 5.1% in 2017.

Economically, Liverpool is set to see estimated GVA growth of around 1.7% per year.