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This could be the best time to buy a house in Manchester

A recession is likely on its way…

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Jeremy Sutcliffe / Flickr

We are yet to see the full economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now might just be the perfect opportunity to get on the housing ladder. 

A lot of people struggle to get on the property ladder in the UK, and it has become increasingly more difficult for younger people – although many young adults can get help from government schemes, they usually depend on financial help from parents and other family members. 

The likelihood of an economic crash due to coronavirus is high. Last week a 2% drop in GDP signified the largest fall in growth since the 2008 financial crisis. 

Credit: Tierra Mallorca / Unsplash

Interest rates are also lower than they have ever been in the Bank of England’s 325 year history. When interest rates are low, it makes saving money less attractive and borrowing money such as that for a mortgage a lot more attractive to consumers and businesses.  

Due to Covid-19, we currently have 7.5 million people in the government’s furlough scheme which is costing the economy £14 billion a month. There is also 1.5 million people unemployed.

As such, consumer confidence has been drastically reduced, lowering the amount of consumer spending – whether that be because they are currently experiencing high levels of job insecurity or are currently furloughed.

Adding to this is the closure of many businesses on the high street. It is also expected that wages are likely to remain the same rather than increase for a while now. 

Credit: Tierra Mallorca / Unsplash

So with all this in mind, it’s looking like we are heading for another recession, if we’re not already in the early stages of one. 

However, there may just be a (tiny) silver lining to it all – a drop in house prices. It happens in every economic crash, house prices fall, demand drops and the market in general seeds a dip.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is completely unprecedented it is uncertain how long the house prices will remain low for, and most professionals don’t know when the economy will recover after lockdown. 

Credit: Tom Rumble / Unsplash

But with mortgage and interest rates currently being as low as they are, it is working out to be the best time to buy a property. 

If you have the funds for a deposit and a completely secure job, now could be the perfect time to get on the property ladder. 

It is expected that towards the end of summer fewer people will be on furlough and many people will start going back to work. This will see the beginnings of the markets settling or have a slight dip, and according to Kaytons Estate Agents, making it the perfect time to buy if you have your finances in place. 

Gagan Khurana, owner of Kaytons,  told Manchester’s Finest: “Now, with the mortgage rates and interest rates being at an all time low, it is probably the best time to buy.

“Having been in lockdown for almost two months now, there will be a busy peak for the next two months but towards the end of the Summer when people start going back to work and employees are not offered a furlough option, this is when the market will start to settle or have a slight dip and so for a first time buyer, assuming they have their finances in place, that is the time to buy.”

The rate at which prices are falling is expected to slow, with some reports stating that the biggest decline in house prices has already happened between March and May. 

So with all this in mind, should you have the capacity to do so now might just well be the perfect time to start looking at getting on the property ladder! Be quick though, this window of opportunity is expected to be small with prices increasing back up again next year. 

Feature

The story behind Manchester’s mysterious Withy Grove Stores

It looks like it’s not been touched for 40 years, so what’s really going on in there…

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Surrounded by chicken shops and takeaways sits an oddity in modern Manchester, the Withy Grove Stores.

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s abandoned, a relic from the 1980s that time and gentrification forgot, confusingly located round the back of the Printworks.

In fact, the safe and office supply store is very much still active, although you can’t just walk in off the street and have a browse – the whole thing raises so many questions, like who owns it? Why hasn’t it been bought and turned into a chicken shop? Is it being used as a front?



Well, the guys over at Manchester’s Finest had a bit of a dig around into the history of the building, and we now have some answers to your questions.

They spoke to a safe and office interior company called Withy Grove Office Interiors, who explained that the company began on Withy Grove in Manchester all the way back in 1850.

However, the history goes even further back, when the Richmond Safe Company was set up by John R Solomon back in 1799, supplying iron-branded and ironclad strongboxes for ships.

The Richmond Safe Company continued to operate until around 1840, at which point they located to offices on Withy Grove and renamed themselves Withy Grove Stores. From here the company expanded, eventually running three sites in the North of England – Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds (the company still operates from Leeds now).


For over 130 years the shop on Withy Grove flogged safes and furniture, impervious to the rapid change and development around it – the Withy Grove Printing House, which printed the Daily Mirror among other titles, closed down in 1985, while the Arndale popped up over the road in the late 1970s.

During the 1980s, it appears the Solomon brothers all fell out over something and each site was broken up and given to one of them to look after. The Leeds site was sold off to private owners by Casper Solomon, but the Manchester location is still very much owned by a Solomon to this day.

A quick check on Companies House shows the Directors of the company are Brian Solomon and Anthony Solomon, and both still own and run the Withy Grove Stores on Withy Grove. Financial statements show the company ran at a substantial loss in both 2018 and 2019, which isn’t really surprising.


So what do they do there and why is it never open? Manchester’s Finest rang up the store’s phone number – found on their still active website – and this is what happened: “The phone was answered by a lovely woman, and we were told that the shop is indeed open and she proceeded to bang out some rather erratic opening times for the week ahead.”

So there you go, if you are in the market for a safe or office chair, give them a ring and grab yourself a retro little number when lockdown is over.

A thread on Reddit also delved into the mystery of Withy Grove Stores, and some people revealed their own experiences with the shop, including actually buying stuff from it.

A user called MR_EXCELLENT wrote: “I rang Mr.Solomon myself a few years ago to ask if I could rent a bit of space in the building, he declined stating he gets dozens of calls every week asking him to ‘sell up’. He told me his dad built the building and he’ll never sell, I told him how much I like the building and how much I’d hate to see a big company ruin it, he told me he thought it would make an excellent Italian restaurant. Good chat! He seemed to be happy to talk to someone who appreciated the building but he could have just been too polite to tell me to fuck off.”

Redditor asidonhopo added: “I went in about 8 years ago or so. Wanted a nice comfy computer chair and it looked like they had some interesting old school office stuff in there, so I rang and the lady said she’d be around that Saturday and to knock on. Her dad used to own the place apparently, she was dead happy for me to just root around through all the old stuff and chat away.”

Pedro-a-go-go actually bought something from there: “I’ve bought stuff in there before, admittedly about 15 years ago. Needed a load of office ‘in trays’ for work. There was a lot of standing about as the bloke was dealing with someone buying a safe, and couldn’t work out how it to change the combination on the safe he was demonstrating. He ended up snapping a teaspoon and jamming it in the lock to try to get it to change. The person didn’t buy the safe. Also office in trays are REALLY expensive….”

And so did Redditor scottynoble: “I bought a safe from there in 2008. Still have it. Friend who recently passed away was a big deal at printworks recommended the place and got me a discount. Was like stepping into 1971, lovely people.”

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Feature

If you’re having really weird dreams this lockdown here’s why

(Don’t worry, you’re not the only one)

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Matthew Henry / Unsplash

If you’re finding yourself having super weird dreams and actually being able to remember them in the morning, don’t panic, you’re not alone.

Tonnes of people across the country have been reporting the exact same thing during lockdown. Luckily a scientist has given us a clever explanation that will calm down all our fears that self-isolation might be getting to us.

There are a lot of contributing factors that stem from being in lockdown that are changing our dream patterns. One of the biggest one is increased stress and anxiety levels due to the uncertainty of the world right now.

Credit: Stephen Oliver / Unsplash

Many, in fact, most people are finding themselves with financial worries and pressures like never before.

Cabin fever is also a huge factor to our unconscious thinking patterns and a lot of people are having dreams of being stuck, whether that formulates as a room with no doors or a shipwreck you’re stuck on – it all comes down to a feeling of being stuck inside. Which is pretty self explanatory.

We’re all also spending more time than ever with the same few people which will be having an effect on your dreams.

Other reasoning comes down to the fact that our homes are physically warmer because we’re all in it, potentially with the heating on. When we’re asleep and warm we have more vivid dreams.

Credit: Kate Stone Matheson / Unsplash

Some people’s dreams might not be that spectacular – finding themselves down the local having a frosty pint of their favourite beer (which does actually sound spectacular tbh) – and that’s completely fine too.

Life has become monotonous, what with ‘going to work’ including rolling out of bed and walking the 10 steps to the dining table. Basically we’re just missing normality and craving the things we would do in an average week.

There’s even a reason as to why we’re all remembering our dreams like they’re a blockbuster movie too.

Credit: Damir Spanic / Unsplash

As we’re all having a little lie-in in the morning, with some of us not even setting an alarm, we can move into that REM sleep.

While we’re in REM sleep our brains are more active, dreams get longer and more vivid. With our alarms not going off, we stay in this type of sleep for longer, dreams extend, get weirder and we can then remember them when we get up.

So whatever your dreams involve, you’re not crazy just isolated!! Keep dreaming kids!

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Feature

Who remembers Manchester’s hugely popular Granada Studios Tour?

Ahh the memories…

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cantwont & Markus Schroeder/Flickr

It was Manchester’s answer to Universal Studios, but with the Coronation Street set…

After a successful decade-long run of providing fun for Manchester, the demise of the Granada Studio Tour began after visitor numbers dwindled – meaning the tour sadly shut up shop for one last time.

One of the biggest reasons as to why can be put down to poor businesses practises at ITV, which saw the company lose millions.

The main culprit was the Sky-like service called ‘ONDigital’, which launched in 1998 and was forced into administration just four short years later.

Granada Studios Tour, Manchester
davekpcv / Flickr

It was pretty much the exact same concept as Sky, only the exclusive shows were essentially rubbish and the whole thing flopped.

At this point the Granada Studios Tour was seen as a large and unnecessary expense, and unfortunately closed down.

The tour was the brainchild of Granada producer David Plowright, who proposed to create a ‘Hollywood-on-the-Irwell‘ – and that he did. Sort of, anyway.

The tour first opened its doors in 1988, expecting to welcome 250,000 in the first year, but in the initial eight months alone 600,000 people visited to take in the sights.

Arguably the most popular attraction was the Coronation Street set which in 2013 moved to MediaCity, built on an even bigger scale with the chance to go inside too!

In 2018 Victoria Street was added, which features a garden and memorial bench paying tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing 22 victims and Coronation Street super fan Martyn Hett.

The old Granada Studios Tour might not have been the bright lights of LA or Hollywood, but you don’t get much more Mancunian than that cobbled street! 

What are your favourite memories of the tour? 

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