The investment case for Luton
Luton is a growing town that is known for being one of London’s most sought-after commuter locations. Indeed, Jackson-Stops has just flagged it up as the top commuter hotspot for 2019 and the town is fast becoming a favourite with property investment companies. Here’s why.
Luton is located 30 miles north west of central London. Direct trains run into London St Pancras International in as little as 22 minutes. 167 trains per day provide an almost round-the-clock service. Rents, meanwhile are around 1/3 of the cost that they are in London. For renters, it is the ideal combination.
Not only that, but London Luton Airport (the fifth largest in the UK and the fastest-growing major London airport) provides the town with easy, fast access to a wide range of European destinations, as well as select locations in Africa and the Middle East.
Luton’s population is increasingly rapidly. Between 2018 and 2041, the Office for National Statistics projects that the town’s population will grow by 12.9%, to 248,500. At the same time, it is in the grips of a serious housing shortage, as is the case with many towns and cities in the UK. However, Luton’s housing shortage is worse than most, with Project Etopia projecting that it will be 22.1 years behind where it needs to be in terms of housebuilding by 2026, if the current rate of development continues. At present, Luton is building 430 new homes per year – it needs to be building 1,417 to meet demand.
This housing shortage spells good news for buy to let investors, as it points to a long-term, sustained level of demand for private rented accommodation in Luton, as tenants seek to snap up those homes that are available. It also has the potential to drive up house prices (as well as rents and yields). Luton is already bucking the trend in terms of house price rises. While many southern locations are seeing a market correction at present, with falling prices or nil growth, Luton’s prices rose by 1.6% in the year to April 2019. Savills, meanwhile, projects growth of 9.3% in the five years to 2023 for the South East region.
In terms of its rental market, Luton enjoys an average rent of £632 pcm for a one-bedroom apartment and £828 pcm for a two-bedroom one, according to Zoopla – significantly less than equivalent homes in London.