BT9 under the microscope this week, but probably not where you’d expect. This month I’m profiling Belfast’s Lower Lisburn Road; so think College Gardens / Dunluce Avenue, right down to Malone Place.
When you think “Lisburn Road”, you’re probably conjuring images of wine bars and boutiques, leafy avenues and mansions up past the police station; or picturing the funky student heartland – café culture, grungy pubs and 5-bed shared houses.
That first little stretch of the city’s well-known arterial route is often overlooked. It’s a place you tend to drive through rather than to, and for this reason, house hunters and property investors may not think there’s much to see.
But we definitely feel it’s worth a look.
Between the Russell Business Centre (most of us remember it as Bob Cratchit’s bar!) and University Road, there is a little network of streets running to, and parallel to, the Lisburn Road. A smart investor will keep an eye out for any former Housing Executive houses or flats coming on to the market. They’ll make a good solid return on investment.
Located on Jubilee Road – which is often mistakenly thought to be part of the hospital, but it’s not. This is a public road that just happens to house many buildings of the hospital and Medical Biology Centre (or MBC) of Queen’s University. Close proximity to these sprawling institutions, and walking distance from the city centre are the reasons these small and not particularly well-finished little flats rent and sell like hotcakes.
There are a lot of well-salaried people in that hospital next door who are not served by property available close by, of a standard they can afford. A smart investor would snap one or two up and refurb to a super-high-end standard to really make the most of it. Think London-standard micro-apartment and you’re getting there. In our experience, the demand is there.
We have observed a pattern of landlords buying properties to rent on Dunluce Avenue because, as the crow flies, it’s in close proximity to Queen’s University. In reality, it is a long, featureless, shop-free street and it’s proved time and time again to be relatively unpopular with students, who don’t enjoy the trek up and down this lengthy avenue. We would advise investors to beware - property being that bit more affordable here is typically for that reason.
I noted a lot of boarded up properties on this street (facing Methodist College) since the recession. Time seemed to stand still here, but it’s now seeing a bit more activity, which is to be commended as these full-size period properties will make fantastic places to live and work; very encouraging to see these coming back into full use.
Many of these three storey houses have been converted into generous, bohemian apartments. Sadly, we receive a steady stream of enquiries from rural-dwelling families who need short term rentals in properties, to be close to a family member receiving treatment at the nearby Cancer Centre. We’d all love to see a day when this type of demand is not so high, but these apartments can offer a comfortable home-from-home to a family during a difficult time. Someone sensitive to these circumstances and willing to provide good quality properties could see a good return on their investment.
This property, on with Dougan Residential and Commercial is split into three flats (2 x 1-beds and 1 x 2-bed), is offered with current tenants, and is HMO-registered until 2020. In this part of town, you will never lack demand. Gross rental income is currently £1,320 – at the asking price of £180,000 that’s a decent yield of 8.8%.
If ‘yield’ is a term that doesn’t mean much to you, we will have a beginner’s guide coming soon in our Industry Information section – watch this space!