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Birmingham: Investment Market Report (Part 1)

Mark Hempshell reports

This month we will continue our look at the potential for investing in the UK's major regional cities with a look at Birmingham. Given the city's status as the UK's second city this will be a two part report. In this first part we will look at some of the fundamentals that affect the property market here, including the progress of the economy, prospects for employment growth and some key commercial and infrastructure developments. Then we will examine housing supply versus demand levels and current price/rent trends in the city. Next month, we will bring you a more detailed look at the various sub-property markets, including city living, student and suburban markets and offer some expert insider information from those who work in the Birmingham property market on a daily basis.

Background and population growth
The City of Birmingham is the second largest city in England with a population of around 1.1m. Birmingham itself cuts a north-south 'slice' through the centre of the West Midlands and encompasses both city centre, suburban and rural fringes. It forms the most populous and economically significant part of the West Midlands which also incorporates the cities of Coventry and Wolverhampton and the metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall. Depending on which statistics you use the West Midlands marginally pips Manchester to form the second largest urban area in the country, with a population of approximately 2.7m.

Between 2001 and 2011 the population of the City of Birmingham itself grew by 88,400 - more than any other UK regional city. Future forecasts from the Office for National Statistics suggest that Birmingham's population will increase by 15% (around 150,000 new residents) by 2031.

Birmingham's economy grew fast during the industrial revolution when it became known internationally as the 'City Of A Thousand Trades' - with its economic development grounded firmly in technology, advanced manufacturing and especially engineering. These industries are still present today but the modern city economy is now more broadly based including service industries. However, the region was hit quite hard by the last recession. Business activity in the West Midlands contracted at a faster rate than in any other UK region - unemployment reached 10.5% in 2008, the highest in England. Employment in the all-important manufacturing sector fell to just 15% of the jobs market. Average household disposable income fell to one of the lowest levels of anywhere in the UK.

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