Buyers want the train to take the strain
Buying property close to a railway station could be a shrewd move, thanks to rising petrol prices. Sharon Dale reports.
RAIL travel is not the perfect mode of public transport thanks to delays, over-crowding and ticket prices, yet more of us are taking the train.
This rise in the number of commuters ditching their cars to avoid road congestion and astronomical fuel costs, has resulted in a property phenomenon.
Graham Bates, of Eddisons estate agents in the Leeds suburb of Horsforth, says: “We have seen buyer enquiries for properties near train stations on the Ilkley to Leeds line rise by just under a third in the last few months, and I think this is a trend that will continue well into the future.
“One of the main reasons for this is fuel costs, but congestion is another major factor. People don’t want to sit in rush-hour traffic.
“We also find families moving to places with train links so their children can have more independence to travel on their own without being ferried about by parents.”
He adds: “The most common questions we are asked are: ‘How close is it to the train station?’ and ‘Can you park at the station?’
“I really think sellers and their agents should focus more on a property’s proximity to a train station. It’s something we have started to do in sales particulars and it’s definitely a selling point.”
To back this up, Eddisons reveal that homes near to stations sell much more quickly than those further away.
Kevin Hollinrake, managing director of Hunters Property Group, has seen a similar scenario in York and believes that these properties can also fetch a hefty premium.
“There is absolutely no question that the price of petrol and the convenience of train travel mean that more people want to live near a railway station.
“It is more cost-effective, even though fares are going up. People will pay more for a property in walking distance of a station.”
The most obvious example of this is York city centre, says Kevin.
Hunters recently sold a two-bedroom terraced house, in Kyme Street, which is five minutes walk from the station, for £209,950. A similar property in a less convenient part of the city would cost £150,000.
“We also sold a lovely penthouse overlooking the river and close to the station for £475,000, and there were two offers for it. There is definitely more demand for property that is very central in York and we are seeing more people who want to live without a car altogether because they realise this is the kind of place where they can.”
Other areas that have become more desirable thanks to their stations, are Malton, which is a 27-minute train ride into York and about an hour to Leeds.
Thirsk, too, is benefiting and is 20 minutes from York and about an hour from Leeds.
Kevin suggests that anyone who wants to let the train take the strain should look at whether they want to walk to the station or park and ride.
If you’re considering buying a little further out and parking at the station, do your homework. Some have free car parks and others charge, but space is always limited. Arrive after 8am and you may not get a space.
“There is a huge variation in charges. In York, you can pay £15 a day to park; in Thirsk, it is £3, and in other places parking is free and there’s lots of it.”
In the medium-to-long-term, geographers are predicting a big shift towards to public transport and to living close to your place of your work, making city centres and suburbs with good train, tram or bus transport links, even more popular.
Dr Rachael Unsworth, of Leeds University School of Geography, says: “I am not at all surprised to hear that more people are enquiring about living near stations.
“This is a turning point when extreme commuting starts to reduce and people adjust in various ways. They will downsize the car to an economical one, change jobs, telework or move house to be closer to work or at least closer to a public transport hub.”