We're back in North Belfast, but we've taken a trip to the other side of the so-called Peace Line.
Mid Shankill is an area of Belfast's Shankill Road that lies between Agnes Street and Tennent Street. Anyone fairly familiar with Northern Ireland and its capital will know that the Shankill has a strong Unionist/Loyalist identity.
As is so often the way in Northern Ireland, it shares a lot of key characteristics with its neighbour on the 'other side' in that the place is increasingly becoming a draw for tourists. The Black Taxi tours that bring cultural sightseers to the Falls Road also bring them to the Shankill and there are several Air BnB properties in the area doing a good trade with tourists.
It is a part of the city steeped in historical significance, and slowly (very slowly) but surely, this tourist draw seems to be forming tiny green shoots of regeneration. The Crumlin Road Gaol is a vibrant tourist attraction and work continues to bring The Crumlin Road Courthouse just across the road into the 21st century as a stunning luxury hotel, The Lanyon Hotel.
Mid Shankill is another part of Belfast where family ties run deep and people like to settle here, although we observe that more and more young families are moving away from Mid Shankill to realise ambitions of owning or renting better quality or more spacious properties.
Unable to afford rent or mortgages for Stranmillis or Lisburn Road houses, they are opting for pleasant three-bed houses towards the Ballygomartin Road or Lyndhurst Drive/Gardens type of area.
We really feel it's a case of 'build it and they will come' - and this applies both to buy-to-let and buy-to-sell investors, as I'll get into now. Regeneration of the Shankill is coming - it may be coming slowly, but even in the past six years we have seen property prices in this part of the city doubling.
It really has an awful lot going for it as well, despite the work that still needs done. You are ten minutes from the centre of town, on all the main bus routes, there are several great primary and grammar schools, plus you're in the catchment area for Belfast Royal Academy too.
The proximity to the city centre - in particular, to the Cathedral Quarter - is not being lost on the many students studying or getting ready to study at the expanding Ulster University Belfast campus. Those looking for an affordable alternative to student dorms and city centre rents are already looking for flats and houses to rent on The Shankill Road.
A wise investor would be buying land and building good quality, good sized family homes and apartments in Mid Shankill, and doing it NOW.
These locations all contain great examples of new housing developments which have been snapped up straight away and rarely been empty since. Trust me - if a decent three-bed property comes on to the market in this part of Belfast, you will have no problem selling it. Those young families would jump at the chance to move back closer to their parents and grandparents.
There are several examples of land beside and adjacent to this vibrant and buzzing community and retail centre. This hub of the area looks great and potentially has employment opportunities for young people and students. The land right beside it was granted planning permission for apartments and sold in 2017, yet the land hasn't so much as been cleared.
I think investors are really missing a trick here - not only could the area do with a few shiny bright new little shops (admittedly the demise of rates relief has made that more difficult to achieve), those shops could have little one- and two-bed apartments above them that are likely to rent really easily. There are commercial units on this road with just-OK flats above them that are literally never empty - as soon as one tenant moves out, there's another ready and willing to lease it straight away.
Here's just one example of a retail property on the market which you could - subject to permissions of course - turn into a shop with flats above it. You could sell to a landlord as an investment or rent it out yourself. Obviously the refurb costs are an unknown variable, but you could see the shop renting for £15k a year and a one-bed apartment could rent for anywhere between £350 - £395 depending on the size.
An immaculate three-bed home just perfect for a first-time buyer - but if you snap it up instead, you could be renting this out for at £525, netting a nice little 8.4% yield.
A lovely semi-detached property right in the heart of Mid Shankill. This three-bed villa style property boasts gas heating, a small front garden and driveway area and seems to be in very good condition. That little extra bit of space is valuable and has driven up the price to just under £100k but you can command a higher rental price for this one. There are similar properties nearby renting for £650 a month so you could take nearly 8% yield.
I hope you enjoyed this journey around another little part of our great city. Remember, if you have any questions about investing in property in Belfast, do not hesitate to get in touch. Waft a good cup of coffee under my nose (mine's an Americano, ta very much) and I will always be happy to take some time to let you pick my brains. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or come and say hello over on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In.