This month will be the first of three trips to the Falls Road. For the purpose of today's article, I will be looking at the chunk of the Falls that lies between its junction with Grosvenor/Springfield Road and the Westlink.
For the uninitiated, this part of Belfast has a strong Republican/Nationalist identity and was formerly (is occasionally) known as one of the city's interface area, living cheek by jowl as it does with its Loyalist/Unionist neighbours on the Shankill Road.
It is a part of the city with a rich and turbulent history; combined with its colourful political murals, this gives it a tourism draw, and on any given day of the week you'll see black taxi tour guides parked up and talking visitors through the significance of the images.
This is a settled community, usually with deep family ties to the area, and working-class roots. Unlike the Andersonstown Road which I visited last year, there is far less variation in terms of property size and type.
There are nurseries, schools, gyms, businesses, offices and shops, Fold Housing and funeral directors - so it's a 'cradle to grave' kind of area and people will spend their entire lives living here.
Many of the small, terraced properties are social housing or ex-Housing Association. It has echoes of the inner city 'grittiness' I observed on the Antrim Road, perhaps with a slightly rougher edge but similar levels of buzz and vibrancy - businesses thriving and plenty of life to the place.
Local amenities are very good, with lots of doctor's surgeries, dental practices, corner shops. I even spotted a little hipster-esque cafe on the Falls Road end of the Springfield Road, so maybe those hard, gritty edges could be softening towards some level of gentrification?
It benefits from the same close proximity to the city centre as the Antrim Road, with excellent transport links, and is also very handy to the Royal Victoria Hospital and Belfast Met's Millfield Campus which will appeal to young workers and students.
Property-wise, there is not much capacity in the market; most of its properties seem to be occupied by long-term owners or tenants and therefore you don't often find new properties coming on to the market.
The only way I can see for this market to grow and develop in response to an expanding city centre is to build up, so I would be keeping an eye on those last remaining sites - possibly old church buildings and schools.
Blackstaff Mill is an excellent example of how the commercial market has snapped up the opportunities presented by large industrial buildings coming on to the market.
This Victorian linen mill was converted into a number of commercial retail and office units, and is at the centre of a buzzy little community just off the Springfield Road.
If the enormous site and buildings of Andrews Flour ever comes on to the market, this could be a fantastic opportunity for apartments, or even mixed use developments.
Having looked at Blackstaff Mill, Ross Mill Avenue is a good example of where the future could lie for the residential market here. Those students and young workforce much prefer apartments like these rather than the two-up-two-downs typical to the area. Any large sites or old buildings that come on to the market will see pressure for conversion into apartments and I think there would certainly be demand.
St Comgall's caught my eye, but there are plans to turn this into a community and business hub (which will hopefully be a boost to the area and may even provide more of those green shoots of gentrification). Keep an eye out for similar sites and you could be on to a winner.
Good example of your typical 'God's honest' local property for this area. Again, although there's not a lot of movement in the market, these properties do come up for sale, usually between the £80k - £100k mark. They tend to yield in and around 7 to 8%, so while they don't leap out as a must-have, they could be a good buy if this is an area you have interest in or connections to and want a simple, reliable investment.
Although offering a little more space and a slightly more suburban feel, property prices tend to remain sub £100k, so grab yourself a 3-bed in this area and it could be a good opportunity to maximise yield or to pick up a nice capital investment.
8 Campbell Building, Ross' Mill - £79,950
If you were to rent this property I believe you could get around £525 a month, which would give a gross yield of approximately 7.9%. Not bad at all.
Rent this 3-bed out for £600 and you'll see a yield of 7.75%
I hope you enjoyed this latest Area Profile. Remember, if you have any questions about investing in property, don't hesitate to get in touch. I can always be persuaded to take five minutes out of my day if there's a hot coffee wafted under my nose! My email address and social links can be found in the top right corner of this page. I look forward to hearing from you.