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Covid-19 and city centre living

COVID-19 and City Centre Living
Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on all of us. It has claimed the lives of over 40,000 of our dearest family, friends and colleagues, destroyed large swathes of the economy and disrupted our children’s education in a way none of us ever thought possible. But it is the long term effect on our lives that is concerning millions of us whether this be our jobs, our businesses or the long term health of our children and loved ones. Uncertainty is one of the most emotionally draining issues we can face and at the moment none of us know for sure what the future may bring.

From a personal and business perspective here at City Residential we have spent the last few weeks emerging from “hibernation” trying to work safely for everyone’s benefit but at the same time ensuring those city residents who need to move can do so efficiently, quickly and safe in the knowledge that we are continuing to maintain our normal levels of service as much as possible.

Our thoughts are now turning to the future and one of the most worrying issues we all face in the city is what is Liverpool going to look like in 6 months, 2 years or even 5 years from now. There is no doubt that there are extremely challenging times ahead and many businesses may fail to come “out of the other side”. Unemployment will rise and the future of the office market may be deeply impacted on how businesses operate more remotely in the future. Our burgeoning hotel sector is in for a real hard few years and last but not least our retail, leisure and culture market is going to struggle to recover from the devastating effect of the lockdown.

So what affect is the going to have on city centre living? The market has boomed over the last few years as thousands of residents from all cultures, nationalities, backgrounds, age groups and professions have chosen the city as a place to live. It is not surprising that the population has exploded as Liverpool has become one of the most popular cities in the UK. Its bar, restaurants, theatres and renowned friendly attitude has made for an ideal place for people to call home.

With the retail, leisure and hospitality sector likely to suffer more than most there is no doubt that it will have an effect on the make-up of the city. This coupled with peoples current fears of living/working in built up city centres will encourage some existing and future residents to look for alternative places to live. We are also likely to see less foreign students return/come to the city for the 2020/2021 academic year and whether these places get filled by UK students may well depend on what the three Liverpool universities decide upon in terms of face to face/virtual learning.

Although there are challenges ahead for the market we have been pleasantly surprised by the market activity since we reopened a few weeks ago. Both rental and sales demand are rising strongly and ahead of where we expected it to be. Talking to tenants and buyers it has excited us that the majority would prefer to live in the city rather than the suburbs. They’ve talked about not wanting to commute on potentially congested roads or packed public transport. They also have a belief that even if the city suffers over the next few months/years it will still be a great place to live!

What some “experts” may also forget when they question the future of city centre living is how affordable Liverpool city centre remains. Its average selling price at £165,000 and average monthly rent around £700 puts it amongst the cheapest of any of the top northern cities and a large discount to the Liverpool suburbs. Let’s not also forget that Liverpool and scousers are a resilient bunch and will ensure that we fight this battle as well as anyone can ensuring that the city continues to build on the wonderful progress it has made over the last 10/15 years

Alan Bevan
City Residential
16th June 2020

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