Safe Bets, Up and Comers, and the Gambles that might pay off
Oxford is a well-established property hotspot with attractive properties, a vibrant culture, two great universities, beautiful countryside all around, and great transport links to London, Birmingham and Manchester.
So if you’re thinking of investing outside of London, what do you need to know about Oxford?
I’ve been successfully letting property – and advising landlord investors – in and around Oxford for over 20 years now, so I’ve got a few tips on where you might want to put your money down:
Your blue chip locations – for both rental return and capital growth – are North Oxford and, in particular, Summertown.
With strong demand from academics and professionals, Summertown has grown into a lovely community thronged with delis, chi-chi bakeries, specialist bookshops and family-friendly venues.
With such an attractive area and great housing stock, prices are high and you’ll need a decent deposit to get in, but the rents are comparatively high and the capital growth is strong.
If you’re more driven by rental income than capital growth, then vibrant, lively areas in East Oxford are popular with students and offer higher returns for lower investment than North Oxford.
The areas around Iffley Road and Cowley Road in particular, with their proximity to the city centre and wealth of independent shops and cafes, offer a great student experience – and a great rental return.
Up and Coming
It’s getting trickier to find an up and coming area in Oxford – so much of it has already up and come!
But there are still areas on the outskirts of Oxford that are ripe for investment.
Kidlington is benefitting from the new Oxford Parkway railway station at nearby Water Eaton, providing easy commuting into Oxford City and London.
The Oxford Parkway station now also links up to the recently opened Bicester Village Station. This will give the area around Bicester Village a direct link to London and Oxford, with two trains per hour to Marylebone, and travel time to London as little as 46 minutes. This is expected to raise prices here considerably. There are several new developments in this area where it may still be possible to buy off plan.
And with the new Westgate/John Lewis development in Central Oxford, the city is about to become an even more desirable place to live, work – and commute to, as many will be priced out of living in the city in coming years.
Ideal for new landlords
If you are new to Buy to Let investment, flats – rather than houses – are a good first time buy.
New builds come with definite advantages – low maintenance, brand new wiring and plumbing. They probably won’t need serious attention for some time.
Older purpose built developments may come at a lower price, and can be a solid investment, but you will need to make some extra checks before you buy: the service charges may be higher, particularly in buildings with lifts, or buildings that have not had ongoing maintenance work attended to for some time (building up a backlog of essential works).
In developments more than 25 years old, check to see if they have a sink fund for major works – for example, when (as it will) the roof needs replacing. If they don’t have a substantial reserve, they’ll be looking to you for a large contribution when the work becomes critical.
Wherever you buy, try to find out how many other rentals are in the building; It’s harder to rent in a development that is saturated with rentals.
Didcot has long been considered one of the less fashionable spots around Oxford, but it has notably improved in recent years, with the opening of a new arts and entertainment complex within the Orchard Centre, and the demolition of the Didcot Power Station (once voted ‘Third Worst Eyesore in Britain’ by readers of Country Life) scheduled for later this year.
In 2015, Didcot was designated an official ‘Garden Town’, meaning extra Government funding is now available to develop the town in an attractive and environmentally friendly way.
So with great links to more expensive areas like London, Oxford and Reading, and three major Science and Technology Parks adjacent, Didcot could be the next big thing in Oxfordshire property.
If you’d like to know more about the questions you should be asking, wherever you’re investing in the UK, have a look at my previous article, Building Your Property Portfolio.
Or if you’re looking at Buy to Let investment in Oxford and you’d like some impartial advice (I only let, I don’t sell),you’re welcome to call me directly for a chat on 07767 830 736.
The Better Letter Ltd
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