Population growth, rising employment and strong house and rental price gains have all put Manchester firmly at the top of the UK’s housing market, and experts predict that the city will continue to thrive for years to come.

Over the past 15 years, the number of people living in Manchester city centre has increased fivefold, from 10,000 in 2000 to more than 50,000 in 2016 when the results were last collated, and the latest analysis predicts that this figure could have risen to 80,000 by 2024 – the fastest growth across the whole of the UK.

As the population continues to rise, so too does the demand for homes – both owner-occupier and rental – which presents huge opportunities for property investors looking for the next big market outside London.

Full of potential

One major factor that’s influencing the rising people numbers in the city is the student population, which is one of the largest in the UK after London. Across the four central universities there are an estimated 105,000 students, while there are around 350,000 within an hour’s drive of Manchester. While many landlords prefer to steer clear of student accommodation rentals, there are still ample opportunities for them to let their properties to graduates, as around 50% of local students stay on in the city after finishing university.

According to a report by JLL, the house price growth forecast for Manchester is 28.2% between 2017 and 2021, which is the highest in the UK alongside Birmingham, while rental growth for the same period is expected to reach an impressive 20.5%.

Meanwhile, employment levels in the city have outperformed the UK average over the past two decades, and experts predict that Manchester will continue to lead the way over the next five years as more young professionals than ever choose the city for its affordability, excellent job market, and as a vibrant place to live.

Excellent growth forecasts

Adding another string to Manchester’s bow, earlier this year, Deloitte named the city as one of Europe’s fastest growing places, with real estate partner Simon Bedford saying: “We’ve reached the point where Manchester should be judged by different criteria from other UK regional cities. Manchester is now in a different league, genuinely competing with other Europeans and international cities.”

As the buy-to-let market presents more challenges for some landlords due to increased regulation and tax relief changes, it is more vital than ever to look at the most promising areas for the best investments. With the growth forecasts in Manchester’s economy and housing market looking so positive for the coming years, the city is full of potential for investors.