Thanks to an expanding population and excellent job prospects, the need for affordable homes in Leeds is greater than ever. As such, high quality rental properties are in constant demand. But with the ongoing cost of living crisis and increasing mortgage rates, property sales are slowing across the city. And some homes are proving especially hard to sell…
So, if you’re thinking of selling your Leeds flat, you may be wondering how it will fare against other types of homes in the area. Or perhaps you’re looking for an investment property but you’re not sure which type will provide the best return? Either way, here’s our view on whether flats are more difficult to sell in Leeds than traditional houses in 2023.
Key factors impacting flat sales in Leeds
First off, let’s take a look at the main elements that can affect a flat’s saleability in Leeds:
Given their popularity with young working professionals, it’s no surprise that city centre flats tend to sell best. Close to workplaces, shops and all the main attractions, apartments in LS1 take just 67 days to sell on average. However, across the city as a whole, Leeds flats are generally listed for 110 days before selling. With that in mind, if your flat is further afield, it may take longer to sell. Plus, it will likely be competing with homes that have outdoor space.
Length of the lease
Unlike houses, many flats are sold on a leasehold basis. This means you own an apartment within a block, but don’t own the building or the land it sits on. There are advantages to this, including fewer maintenance responsibilities and often shared amenities. But one of the key downsides is that if you’re trying to sell a flat with a short lease, you may struggle to find a buyer. This is because most mortgage brokers will only offer loans for 80+ year leaseholds.
One major benefit of selling a flat during a recession is their relative affordability versus other property types. As of February 2023, the mean selling price of a flat in Leeds was £151,395, whereas semi-detached homes averaged £266,458. This makes flats more attractive to those with smaller deposits and less disposable income. With that said, research shows that most first time buyers are now aged 33+, with many renting longer while saving for a bigger home.
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, flat sales trended down as priorities changed. Larger out-of-town houses with spare rooms and gardens were a more appealing prospect. And for many, this suburban, slower pace has been a permanent change. For others, the draw of city living is returning. As such, high quality, central Leeds flats are becoming easier to sell once again.
Another major incident that continues to impact flat sales in Leeds is the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. The disaster claimed the lives of 72 residents in west London and a follow-up investigation found that the building’s external cladding accelerated the fire.
Since then, other towers around the UK have been investigated and had combustible cladding removed. And those that do still have cladding must now be surveyed and hold a valid EWS1 certificate for mortgage lending purposes. Despite this, many buyers are still wary of buying flats in high-rise blocks – especially those with any form of visible cladding.
Are flats struggling to sell in Leeds?
So with all of the above considered, are flats more difficult to sell in Leeds than houses? Well, the answer isn’t straightforward. On the one hand, tidy city centre flats with long leases and affordable price tags remain very popular amongst working professionals. This is due to their convenience, minimal upkeep and lower mortgage rates which enable first time buyers to get onto the property ladder.
Then there’s the fact that buying a smaller home generally means lower monthly expenses too – an important consideration given the present financial crisis. Meanwhile, multi-bedroom flats are ideal for renting out to several of the city’s 60,000 Uni students as passive income.
With that said, according to Varbes, flat prices have risen the least out of all property types in Leeds over the last 10 years. And, on average, flats still take 34 days longer to sell than semi-detached homes. As we’ve seen, there are several reasons for this, from a renewed desire for outside space to worries surrounding fire safety.
On top of that, the city has a host of roomier terraced houses close to the action, with many costing just £25-30k more than a flat. As a result, families and couples who want more space may well go for that option instead.
Are flats going down or up in value?
While other property types have seen a 4-13% increase since February 2023, flat prices in Leeds haven’t changed in the last year. Additionally, apartments made up just 15.3% of all property sales in the city over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, semi-detached homes accounted for 33.9%, terraces for 34.4% and detached houses – the remaining 16.3%.
This may suggest that apartments aren’t as popular as other homes in Leeds. But with the UK housing market slowing and prices falling from previously inflated rates, identifying the exact cause is hard. One explanation would be that flats appeal more to renters than buyers.
Is Leeds a good place to invest in property?
According to Leeds City Council, private rentals dominate the owner-occupier market in the city centre and student areas. As this is where most Leeds flats are located, they are often a worthwhile investment for buy to let landlords as demand is high. In fact, good quality flats in the heart of Leeds will rarely stay empty for long, despite rents averaging a substantial £1,140 pcm. However, bear in mind that if selling to a buy to let landlord, you can expect a lower offer than a traditional buyer due to their profit margins.
Furthermore, the strong rental market is also reflective of a tougher resale market. This is especially true in inner city Leeds where many residents are under 30 and don’t have the funds to buy a home. And by the time they do, they may well have families or aspirations for a larger property. Likewise, flat prices aren’t rising as quickly as other property types, which means a lower return on your investment if you’re a landlord that decides to sell up.
That said, new research suggests that 2-bed flats are becoming more sought after as people look for ways to make their money go further, so watch this space…
You can also discover more pros and cons of investing in flats on our sister blog.
Sell your flat fast in Leeds
Struggling to sell your flat in Leeds? Don’t panic! Whether the problem is due to the condition previous students left it in, an unappealing location or even unsafe cladding, we can help.
At We Buy Any Home, our expert cash house buying team is ready and waiting to provide a realistic offer on any flat in the city. Better still, you won’t have to wait for a buyer to find a loan or worry about the sale potentially falling through.Instead, we offer a guaranteed sale and could have the funds in your account in just 7 days – remember, the traditional route takes 110 days on average! Ready to learn more? Start by applying for a free, no-obligation cash offer today to find out what your home could be worth.