The huge, bold mechanical bull that roared into the Birmingham arena at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games could be a suitable metaphor for the city’s property scene.
‘There are so many positive things that have ridden on the back of the Games taking place here,’ says Andrew Oulsnam, director of Robert Oulsnam and Company, and the owner of 11 estate agencies around the city.
‘We’re seeing lots of increased investment, with prices rising substantially over the past year and a half. The Games have given us a “feelgood factor” which I am sure will spread beyond the event itself.’
Onto a winner: Birmingham’s Victoria Square before the Games. Properties in the City are 60% lower than those in London
Warming to his theme, he says: ‘Even now, in August, there is a change; more interest from buyers — when traditionally, the summer months are not the best time for the property market. I’m optimistic about the future.’
The shift in Birmingham’s fortunes started with the proposals for the HS2 project, which, when completed in 2033, will cut journey times to London to under an hour. This encouraged large companies such as HSBC, which has moved its UK headquarters to the city.
Since then, PwC and Goldman Sachs have followed.
International estate agents are selling properties abroad, while at the same time several infrastructure projects have transformed Birmingham into a safe, energetic and culturally diverse city — and a young one, with under-25s accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the population.
This has added to the vibrancy, and the reason why many emerging industries such as technology innovation and life sciences have started up. It is also a shoppers’ city, with 1,000 retail outlets within a 20-minute walk of the centre.
And then there are the prices. Properties in Birmingham cost 60 per cent less than those in London.
Universally now, living in Birmingham is seen in a positive light
Estate agent Philip Jackson
‘The pandemic meant many people working from home appreciated the importance of having some outside space,’ says Lynda Williams, branch manager at Kings Heath estate agency.
‘I have clients who moved from London, selling their small flats for typically £500,000 and getting a lovely Victorian house and garden with original features, for the same money here.’
Philip Jackson, director of Maguire Jackson, deals with city centre properties and has seen the positive impact of the Games.
‘There is no doubt that the extra attention focused on Birmingham is helping the property market.
‘The Commonwealth Games, bringing 72 teams from all over the world, is a nice step on the HS2 journey,’ he says.
‘Rental prices over the past 12 months have increased by five to ten per cent, and universally now, living in Birmingham is seen in a positive light.’
He says the famous Jewellery Quarter is like Clerkenwell in central London 20 years ago, with controlled conservation of historical buildings, giving residential property an interesting vibe.
Intriguingly, too, this is where all the medals for the Commonwealth Games were made. Philip says the typical renter is a contract worker aged 25 to 35.
At the same time, the sales market is also steadily growing inside the Jewellery Quarter, where modern warehouse conversions of one-bedroom flats are going for £185-£200,000 and two bedrooms from £220,000 to £500,000.
Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, is naturally proud of the enthusiasm and the success the Games have brought.
One of the legacies is 1,000 new homes being built in the north of the city at Perry Barr, next to the main stadium.
‘It has cost us £184 million to put on the Games and the Government matched it three times. Now, we have levered a billion pounds of investment into the city on the back of that,’ says Mr Ward. ‘We couldn’t afford not to have them.’
On the market… in our second city
Wharfside Street: This two bedroom penthouse is in the city centre. There is access to a residents’ gym and the building has private parking. n Fineandcountry.com, 0121 272 600 £400,000
H0dge Hill: There are three bedrooms in this semi-detached home, on the outskirts of Birmingham, which also has a conservatory and a garage. n Shipways.co.uk, 01217 210 563. £230, 000
Wychall Road: Following a complete renovation, this three bedroom detached house has a newly fitted kitchen/diner, bathroom and off-road parking. n Ardenestates.co.uk, 01217 217 734. £299,950