Image Credit James Bennett of HoldThatBox.com
With a rejuvenated , vibrant and eclectic retail centre, charming historic quayside, the fastest growing city economy in the UK and just a short drive to beaches and moors, the beautiful cathedral city of Exeter looks set to build on its burgeoning reputation as a popular property hotspot.
As the property market picks up again following the coronavirus lockdown, leading Exeter estate agency Wilkinson Grant & Co report a massive increase in enquiries from out-of-area buyers looking to rethink their lifestyles.
Agency Principal Roger Wilkinson reveals: “In recent years, Exeter has become an increasingly popular place for individuals , families and businesses to relocate but we are now seeing that the forced changes of life under lockdown have encouraged even more people to re-evaluate their lives.
“The choice for many appears to come down to this – live in or commute to the larger cities, with the associated stresses and crowds? Or, opt for the healthier, safer lifestyle Exeter has to offer?
“For many, it’s now a ‘no brainer’. Surrounded by open countryside you’re just 20 minutes from beaches and the moors and you can enjoy everything a larger city has to offer.”
And Roger, who has over forty years’ experience in property and has run his hugely successful agency in and around Exeter for the past twenty five of them, adds that it is not just the financial numbers which are prompting the surge in interest.
“There was a time when such out-of-area movers were motivated more by prices than anything else,” he adds. “Now, it’s about other more important values.
“Yes, you can still buy a house here for considerably less than other UK cities, but with more people discovering that they can actually easily work from home and at the same time enjoy a far better quality of life, it’s no surprise that we are seeing a marked upturn in the number of people looking to relocate to Exeter and the surrounding area.”
One of the ‘blue chip’ names putting the name of Exeter firmly in the national consciousness is the successful Exeter Chiefs rugby team. Playing in a modern, purpose-built stadium on the edge of the city, with a new hotel taking shape adjacent to the ground helping to take club revenues to a new level, the team is a beacon for the city and the region.
One of the stars of the team, winger Olly Woodburn, is a happy resident of Exeter, as he explains: “It’s a great city to be living in. It has everything you need – culture, shopping, parks, excellent communications, beautiful walks and pathways…and the fantastic beaches are moments away. I love it here!”
Once house buyers have made the decision to move west, the price differentials add a compelling reason to consider relocating to Exeter and all that it has to offer. For example, Georgian family houses with gardens in St Leonard’s , considered the ‘Chelsea’ of Exeter, range from around £750,000 to £1.75m.
The popularity of this elegant district means some of the finest properties in EX2 are now worth in excess of £2.5m, but you can still purchase a roomy three double-bedroom Victorian terrace in the same address for £400,000. And the average price for a home in the city is still only a little over £260,000 – a snip in comparison to the £600,000+ average of inner London.
This stylish contemporary modern detached house with large southerly aspect garden in the heart of Exeter’s St Leonards. Sold during lockdown to a family relocating to the city. Offering over 3,200 square feet of fabulous living space including fantastic open plan living/dining/kitchen, separate sitting room, study, 4-6 bedrooms, 4 beautiful bathrooms home cinema/bedroom 5, playroom/bedroom 6. large garage with ‘Tesla’ charging point and parking for several cars. Offered for sale with a guide price of £1,400,000
Wilkinson Grant senior negotiator, James Mold, adds: “We are finding in recent times that the decision to move to Exeter is certainly more about lifestyle and home and work balance, but combine this with choice, quality and price of housing stock and you have a compelling case for moving to what many see one of the best places in the UK to live.”
This “attractive but dated” semi-detached four bedroom family home with impressive 116ft garden just a mile from Exeter city centre , recently came to market with a guide price range of £450,000 to £500,000. The agents have been inundated with enquires from both local and out-of-area buyers and have received multiple offers.
Businesses thrive in the area too as Alex Newbery, director of successful home interiors business Sapphire Spaces reveals: “We are so lucky to be based in Exeter, with all it offers for business. Our client base is growing and we can attract the best in talent to work for us as they love the mix of it being a great place to work and then having a fabulous environment for down time away from the office.
“Another great plus point for Exeter is that it has some really good schools both in and around the city and we have recently completed a few projects in St Leonard’s for families that have moved specifically to be near Exeter School, The Maynard School and Exeter Cathedral School – then there is St Peter’s and Stover just a short journey away.
“Some of these clients are new to the area but others were brought up down here, moved to London (or further afield) to develop their careers but are moving back now they have a family of their own. These people are bringing a lot of skills and expertise to the local economy and have high standards of cosmopolitan living.”
And with an abundance of compelling new housing development coming on stream at exactly the right time, it means it’s not just the city’s historical areas which are seeing a surge in interest, as Lisa Storer, Wilkinson Grant’s New Homes manager, reveals: “With demand from out-of-area buyers growing and competition from local people looking to upgrade to stylish, new high specification, low maintenance homes, the New Homes market here in Exeter and close by is very strong.
A small select development of just five brand new high specification detached houses near Exeter’s Golf and Country Club and just a mile or so from Exeter Chiefs Premiership Rugby ground . Offered for sale with Guide prices of around £650,000 these impressive properties are just a few of the many new homes available through Wilkinson Grant
“With the majority of new homes locally being offered for sale with the benefit of ‘Help to Buy’, we predict a very busy summer and second half of the year. Far from spoiling our beautiful city, the many new developments will enhance the residents’ experience as the community infrastructure grows in tandem and new facilities are added, whilst the beating heart of the city remains intact.”
But how is this translating to what’s actually happening now? After ten years living and working in central London Iain and Emily Turner decided the draw of Exeter was too much to resist. Iain, a Policy Manager for a London-based Housing Association says “Having both grown up in Exeter, returning “home” always felt inevitable. Being able to walk on Dartmoor one day and surf the next, all while maintaining a slice of city life, makes it such a great place to live. The only thing holding us back was the fear of missing the trendy east London bar scene and restricted job market. We needn’t had worried. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink now, both in the city centre and down on the Quay. Remote working, which is increasingly becoming the norm, has allowed me to maintain my job in London while enjoying Devon life. We already have friends plotting how they can follow in our footsteps.”
Central to the economic success of the city has been the input and investment of Exeter City Council. Karime Hassan, the council’s Chief Executive and Growth Director adds: “Our economy continues to attract investment, create new businesses, support and grow existing businesses and draw in high calibre employees.
“New working practices, born out of lockdown, will only help accelerate this process. The research , development and education facilities already on offer here are amongst the very best in the country – combine this with everything else the city has to offer and I am very optimistic about the future”.
James and Michael Dart of Award Winning artisan shopping venue ‘Darts Farm’ on the edge of the city and River Exe Estuary, toasting local producers
“I have seen the future of food shopping and it’s not in London, Manchester or Edinburgh but on a road that runs alongside the Exe Estuary in Devon, a few miles south of Exeter”
Take the River Exe Cycle trail to the nearby coastal resort of Exmouth with Cycle hire and a picnic hamper from ‘Darts Farm’