Posted by: Giles Barrie23 December 2010
Readers may have choked on their breakfast this morning as they read the Daily Telegraph front page headline `Brace yourself for a 5% interest rate’.
I will therefore try to cheer you up with my awards for the year.
First, the news on interest rates, courtesy of an interview with Monetary Policy Committee executive director of markets Paul Fisher.
With inflation set to hit 4% in 2011, Fisher warns that rates will inevitably return to more `normalised’ rates of around 5%, which would be far from comfortable for most property concerns.
The property industry has been saved from further carnage by the low interest rates of the last two years, but rates at 5% could start to topple the whole deck of cards.
All of a sudden all those properties and companies that are just covering their interest payments with income start to see their sums come apart – a few voids and they are up the creek.
It adds up to an unappetising economic picture: the MPC will have to raise interest rates to get inflation back to its target of 2% - but at the same time unemployment is on the rise.
So, to cheer you up as you head off for your Christmas break, here are my gongs for 2010:
Property Company of the Year: Hammerson – a blizzard of activity under new boss David Atkins, very much the modern, considered face of REITs.
Best Agencies (Small): H2SO and GM Real Estate – Paul Smith’s H2SO has thrown itself into a recovering West End market. Gibbon and McCurley’s GM has proved that you don’t have to be huge to make real waves in the London investment scene.
Best Agency (Big): CB Richard Ellis – after Jones Lang LaSalle stormed back to lead the investment league tables in 2009, the Green Machine cleaned up in 2010, dwarfing rivals’ activity levels.
Good Bank/Bad Bank: Lloyds Banking Group stepped up a gear in 2010, making some bold calls. But where was Royal Bank of Scotland? You feel its problems are so huge it still doesn’t know where to start.
Enterpreneur of the Year: So far – the prize has to go to Peel boss John Whittaker. He arrived on the world stage in recent weeks by agreeing to sell the Trafford Centre to Capital Shopping Centres, triggering Simon’s bid.
And don’t forget that he is also ushering in a new era for the North-West at Media City with the arrival of the BBC and ITV.
Developer of the Year: Tony Pidgley: the Berkeley boss cleaned up in London, where so many still feared to tread.
I am manning propertyweek.com on Christmas Eve, with my colleagues James Whitmore and Kat Baker on duty on December 29, 30 and 31.
Look out for a `Location, Location, Location’ noughties special at 19.55 on December 30, though, where I have my say on the decade’s amazing property boom.