Decades ago, Belfast was regularly in the news for the wrong reasons. That, however, was then and ever since Belfast has been quietly rebuilding itself and moving on from its troubled past. Now it’s one of the buzziest and vibrant cities in the UK and its robust growth looks set to continue.
Here are some reasons why…
Belfast has some of the most modern infrastructure in the UK
During the days of the troubles, making major infrastructure improvements in Belfast was difficult for the simple reason that they may quickly have been targeted and destroyed. Indeed, there are some who believe that at least some roads in Belfast were deliberately kept in poor repair to make it harder for terrorists to transport bombs.
Once peace was firmly established, however, it became not just feasible to invest in Belfast, but highly desirable to do so. Belfast’s troubled past has arguably therefore led to it having the benefit of some of the most modern infrastructure in the UK.
What’s more, this infrastructure is still being upgraded and expanded as the city develops in response to population growth.
Residential property prices are still affordable
The local authorities in Belfast have done an excellent job of expanding the housing stock to accommodate the city’s growing population. As a result, property has stayed very affordable, quite spectacularly so in comparison to Dublin, where house price inflation has become a major issue both practically and politically.
There is, however, still a clear need for high-quality rental accommodation for students, young adults, international visitors and other ‘lifestyle renters’.
This situation presents a clear opportunity for investors from all parts of the UK, especially those on smaller budgets who might struggle to afford suitable properties in the Midlands and North and especially in university towns where there can be a high level of competition between investment buyers.
There is a growing need for commercial property
Tourism was already one of Northern Ireland’s key industries before Game of Thrones arrived on the scene, but being the key filming location for one of the world’s most popular TV series certainly helped to promote it to the global tourist market and it didn’t take Tourism NI long to start capitalising on the area’s increased visibility.
Even though Game of Thrones is now at an end, there is still always the possibility that the book series will continue and even if it doesn’t, there are plenty of other fandoms to attract, such as viewers of The Fall, Line of Duty, The Lost City of Z, High-Rise, Dracula Untold and Your Highness, all of which were filmed in Northern Ireland.
In fact, out of all the infrastructure improvements made in Belfast, the creation of Titanic Studios may turn out to be the most important due to the fact that having major productions filmed in the area has all sorts of indirect benefits to the economy, most obviously in the form of attracting tourists who want to visit the locations of their favourite films and TV programmes.
This in turn brings benefits to other sectors, such as retail and leisure as it expands the market for their goods and services.
*Mark Burns in the managing director of UK property investment firm Hopwood House. You can find out more information on property investment in Belfast here.