Published 12 February 2020

Norfolk village signs collageIt’s not just the city which offers good buy-to-let potential – rural investors need to understand that tenants are looking for something beyond a nice property. 

When it comes to residential buy-to-let, the focus is often concentrated on Norwich, with much debate about which part of the city will be the ‘next big thing’, and where investors should be spending their money. But despite the magnetic appeal of Norwich, Norfolk is an overwhelmingly rural county, and it is misguided to think that all of the demand for rental properties is urban.  Indeed, the appeal of the ‘ideal’ rural village remains strong.

As an example, we recently let a cottage in the village of Framingham Pigot, just south of the city.  There was much competition between prospective tenants, and we could have let it several times over. This shouldn’t be a surprise: Framingham Pigot is in many ways the ‘perfect’ village, picturesque with pretty cottages, a church, and delightful countryside walks and yet just ten minutes from the Norwich southern bypass. 

But in the end, the thing which really makes this village so popular is something less tangible – a real sense of community. This is village life that any Archers fan would recognise.  And that ‘Ambridge Factor’ is a key consideration in assessing whether a rural location is a good investment when it comes to investing in a buy-to-let property.

Framingham Pigot is far from alone in Norfolk when it comes to offering a high quality village life.  Bawdeswell, Little Melton, Hingham, Horsham St Faith, Horstead… the list goes on and on.  Yes, the city has a big draw for urbanites and in particular young professionals, but for others, including families and those wanting a calmer life than the metropolis can offer, the rural village still exerts a powerful attraction.

And while you might imagine that such people are mainly looking for the archetypal roses around the door cottage and classic English village beauty, what they are actually seeking is quality of life – and that is much more down to what goes on in the community than it is about how it looks.

Even if they will end up travelling into the city to work (although with rapidly improving rural broadband and 4G connections, many are able to work at least part of the week at home), they want to build a life in the village in which they live.  And that means they want a vibrant and sociable community where plenty happens and they can have a happy work/life balance.

So when it comes to choosing a rural location for a buy-to-let investment, you need to think beyond the property itself.  Those villages with the ‘Ambridge Factor’ will always be in demand and have a place in the private rented sector.  

Phil Cooper | Lettings Partner 

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