More big names in property looked into their magic eight balls for 2018 for part 2 of our forecast including Manish Chande, Savannah de Savary and Mark Granger.
Senior partner, Clearbell
We hope the Brexit rhetoric will start to change. Overseas investors have been eyeing the UK property market with caution since the Brexit vote. Yet the strong fundamentals and stability that make the UK property market attractive remain. Moreover, weaker commercial property prices in London thanks to Brexit present an investment opportunity.
We expect to see a reverse ripple effect as property values outside London start to rise more quickly than in central London, due to Brexit uncertainty. We’ve previously pursued a regional strategy, with the view that London is expensive. That may change this year. Co-working will also continue to grow in popularity across the UK, with employers taking on ‑ flexible working space to suit changing employee demands. Lastly, logistics will present an investment opportunity due to the demand/supply imbalance of suitable distribution warehouses.
- Resolution - It’s more important than ever to find a way to thrive in a world of flux and this begins with remembering the importance of the people closest to you, including your colleagues, friends and family. In 2018, it will be more important than ever to be there for those people and provide the support that makes things more straightforward in an uncertain world.
Chief executive, RDI REIT
This is wishful thinking, but my hope is that Brexit is scrapped altogether. Realistically, I am hoping for a smooth resolution of the Brexit negotiations leading to a lengthy transitional period that results in a friendly trade agreement within the customs union. On the economy, I hope consumer confidence remains buoyant with stable interest rates and no further retailer insolvencies.
Finally, I hope the government comes to its senses and scraps the crazy proposal to implement CGT on foreign investors, which will have a serious impact on the industry. I expect flat or negative property performance across all sectors except for uber-prime (excluding residential). Interest rates will probably rise by 25 basis points, at least twice, failing to dampen inflation, which will remain above 3% for most of the year. Unfortunately, it’s likely that a handful more retailers will go bust. London office take-up will veer more towards the ‑ flexible office providers, which we believe present a compelling offering.
- Resolution - After celebrating 10 years as a listed company, we want to build on the success we have achieved and work towards crossing that £1bn market cap threshold, while continuing to deliver one of the highest dividend yields in the sector on behalf of our investors.
Savannah De Savary
Founder and chief executive, Built-ID
I hope that 2018 sees the UK retain its reputation on the global stage as a great place to do business. It has been fascinating to see the impact that international tech firms such as Google, Amazon, Bloomberg and Facebook are having on the built environment. Not only are they creating iconic workspaces that are breaking the boundaries of office design; they’re also playing a prominent role in placemaking. My hope is that London continues to attract such global players and to be one of the world’s leading tech hubs.
Source: Shutterstock/Mr. Cheangchai Noojuntuk
While proptech as a whole took great strides forward in 2017, there is still some way to go in terms of the actual adoption and integration of proptech solutions within property companies’ processes and schemes. I expect 2018 to see more property leaders implementing overarching digital strategies and giving real buying power to their digital officers.
Resolution - Keep learning and focusing on driving positive change. This year will see us launch our premium features, which aim to transform the creative and execution process on a real estate project. Drawing inspiration from discovery sites such as Pinterest and collaboration platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive, Built-ID’s Sandbox function, for example, will enable project teams to find, share and develop new ideas and seamlessly work together from multiple locations. We are privileged to be working with some great industry partners on the development of the new tools and look forward to sharing them with the industry.
Chief executive, Harworth Group
My hope is that we all collectively back off the Brexit debate and allow the politicians to get on with the job and come up with a settlement. The industry countrywide has been clear on what it expects to see. We need to remember that the market fundamentals to support a healthy commercial property market continue, with evidence still showing a shortage of good-quality residential and commercial space in most regions outside central London.
My expectation for regional commercial property is a steady year in terms of demand, supported by rents and yields remaining stable. We are not seeing evidence of business failures, which can drive down rents as administrators dump property on the market. We also anticipate ongoing demand from housebuilders for brownfield land across the north and Midlands, which ultimately translates into good-value housing. If houses are affordable and mortgages are available, people keep buying.
- Resolution - Professionally, I and the rest of the Harworth team intend to stick to business basics and keep pushing ahead with all major regeneration projects within our expanding portfolio. All our projects have a long lead-in time and project lifecycle and if you were to lose confidence every time our politicians look to have lost their way, we would end up putting projects on hold every other year. ‘Determination, patience and perseverance’ remains my personal mantra. On a personal note, I hope 2018 is ‑ finally the year I crack an eskimo roll while sea kayaking!
Chief executive, Carter Jonas
It is time for some of the talk around new infrastructure projects to be put into action. Huge investment has gone into city regions with the aim of spreading economic prosperity across the country, but without solid commitments to new infrastructure projects we are constraining growth. Enhanced connections between cities are critical, so I hope progress is made with projects such as HS3 and Crossrail 2, as we have seen with plans to open the Varsity line between Oxford and Cambridge.
Housing remains a critical issue, but new development must be affordable so more social and keyworker homes are required. Following a year of expansion, we will continue to grow as a business. Brexit is a looming spectre, but we remain bullish on the potential for growth in London, the Midlands and the North and South West, driven by the growth of industries such as life sciences and tech. To encourage more inward investment, I think we will see moves towards greater devolution. Sadiq Khan led a successful delegation to India at the end of 2017, which demonstrated that mayors can have as great an impact as ministers. I expect 2018 to be the year of the city.
- Resolution - As an industry, our collective resolution should be to further efforts to move forward with our diversity and inclusion pledges. Professional bodies such as the RICS are playing an essential role in this, but real change needs to be driven by businesses in terms of how they approach recruitment and retain staff. On a personal note, I plan to improve my backhand – I dream of playing as well as Borg. I fear my ambition to learn the piano will remain a pipedream.
Director, First Base
There is more uncertainty going into 2018 than there has been since the global financial crisis. Brexit, uncertain government, falling house prices, tax changes, significant policy changes, inflation, rising interest rates, skills shortages and the rise in automation of labour all bring significant challenges for the property sector. But out of adversity comes opportunity and I expect that rather than a focus on churning out mono-tenure homes to meet targets, we will focus on quality regeneration that delivers sustainable multiple-use places. My hope is that 2018 will see major progress in the advancement of public-private partnerships to unlock major multiple-use development opportunities.
It is clear that there is strong government support, that local authorities have been given the remit and funding to take more responsibility and that the private sector is ready to make long-term commitments to delivery. I also hope that the renewed focus on employment and culture as the foundations for regeneration, rather than mono-use housing, will continue. This belated recognition is a major step forward.
- Resolution - My resolution is to do my bit to build more trust between private developers, local communities and public sector organisations. This three-way relationship is critical to genuine regeneration where jobs, homes and culture are delivered. When trust is established, we can all play our part to focus on outcomes, exceed expectations and create places of which future generations will be proud.
EMEA director, Matterport
We hope the industry sees beyond the uncertainty of Brexit and continues to invest in a tech-integrated future. Our expectation is that there will be more awareness around proptech and a move from the property industry to start identifying pinch points and bringing them to tech companies. We are also expecting more instability in the property market, meaning that more property companies will rely on proptech to differentiate themselves. In our corner of the market, we expect virtual tours and VR to become more mainstream.
- Resolution - I would like to spend more time out of the office talking with suppliers and clients, attending events and taking advantage of speaking opportunities.
Executive director, APAM
I would like to see infrastructure investment become increasingly focused on region-to-region connectivity. Connecting Manchester with Leeds and Newcastle needs to be prioritised in order to balance out the regional economies with London and the South East. To boost productivity, it is crucial that we encourage growth across the country and better support our local communities.
Despite the geopolitical and economic headwinds created by Brexit, there has been a significant amount of investment activity, both in central London and the regions. With sterling likely to remain weak for some time, we expect a significant amount of investment capital to invest in the UK from all over the world.
- Resolution - To keep on top of the changing ways in which people live, work and spend their spare time. We are committed to continuing to adapt and update the assets we manage, delivering modern amenities for occupiers and strong returns for our clients.
Chairman, Quinn Estates
Last year was marked by uncertainty and instability as a result of Brexit, among other factors. Our challenge this year is to turn the tide so developers are not seen as the enemy but the hero. This will only come about by delivering developments for the many and not the few. In other words, it is about educating developers and landowners that they need to put more back into the community than they take.
In 2018, there will be a real focus on pushing to get commercial property delivered in Kent, where demand outstrips supply, as I believe this is a crisis of the same magnitude as the housing crisis. I expect housebuilders to continue to be aggressive in purchasing development land but to be very selective. To sum up: a nervous but positive year.
- Resolution - I would like to get out and ski more than I have done in recent years and ski alongside some of the athletes that I sponsor; these include several of Britain’s best skiers, notably Dave Ryding, who will be competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and Alex Tilley and Charlie Guest, women’s alpine ski racers. In addition, I would like to build a new motorway junction – junction 5a – for the people of Sittingbourne and a new hospital for the people of east Kent.
Chief executive, British Council for Offices
I hope to see the industry continuing to drive the debate around the positive role the workplace can play in the prosperity of UK business. In times of economic and political uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that we understand and demonstrate how the right workplace can add value to a business, rather than being viewed simply as a cost. An exemplary office can strengthen a ‑ firm’s brand and reputation, and help drive more efficient and productive working.
I expect to see the conversation around health and wellness in the workplace increase and become more sophisticated. The line between our work and personal lives has long been blurred, but there is now broader recognition that addressing this, and improving employee health and wellness, will be a key factor in helping to solve the UK’s productivity puzzle. Consequently, there will be a need to develop more effective ways of measuring employee health and wellness. This should allow us, as an industry, to become better equipped at designing healthy workplaces that encourage wellness and facilitate productive working.
- Resolution - To focus on the issue of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We want to play a greater role in this debate and, as such, have chosen the issue as the theme of our annual conference, which for 2018 will be in Berlin. We’ll be interrogating how office environments can help progress the diversity agendas of their occupants, and how we can ensure the workplaces we are creating embrace and engage all employees.
Founder, Make Architects
I’ve been very inspired by some of the buildings delivered in London this year; my hope is that these don’t dry up as the country braces itself for Brexit. The temptation is to batten down the hatches, but, to my mind, it is now more important than ever to show the world we intend to stay a global hub for business and will continue to create market leading commercial stock to accommodate firms that want to be part of that.
I think we’ll see much more around the issues of wellness and their natural spin-offs into coworking and co-living as we look to create inspirational, comfortable and adaptable places in which to work and live. It is fascinating how technology is playing such a role in shaping our built environment, and collaboration to design buildings and spaces will become ever more important to facilitate this. I’m really looking forward to the BCO Berlin conference and its focus on diversity. Never more important than now.
- Resolution - We’re strategising at Make for the next 12 to 18 months and it’s so interesting to see what different people view as being a real focus and passion for them. All different, all important, all showing where their talents and strengths lie. My resolution is to try and help facilitate this wherever possible and, for Make, to grow our international profile and portfolio.
Director, Lunson Mitchenall
I hope we will see more of a stabilisation in the market as things become clearer on Brexit and decisions are made regarding the future of the UK. As a result of this, I think we will also see more and more retailers investing in experiential stores in order to encourage customer retention and to offer a point of difference through tangible experiences. In this post-Brexit-vote market, we have seen growing uncertainty affecting consumer habits in the retail and leisure industry.
We will also see London continuing to be dominant and important for the sector with an ongoing, steady flow of tourists drawn to the capital and filtering through to the regions. This will be especially important with regard to Crossrail, which will be given a boost towards the end of the year.
- Resolution - I would like to ensure the industry remains focused on simplifying the legal process of transactions, allowing us to keep up with the pace of this fast changing world.
Managing director, Realm
To remove current market uncertainty and passiveness, businesses need clarity on the Brexit issue, and as such we need our politicians to make real progress on this in 2018. The outlet sector has had another positive year in 2017 with sales growth continuing at previous levels of between +5% and 10%. I expect such growth levels to continue through 2018.
Higher inflation and lower wage growth will squeeze household incomes, and outlet centres’ proposition of quality brands at value pricing has historically seen increased footfall and spend in times of economic uncertainty. Long may this continue.
- Resolution - My resolution is to improve my corporate communications within the business and to visit all the centres in our managed portfolio much more regularly – I’m going to get out of the office more!
2018 preview: Expert forecasts
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2018 preview: Expert forecasts (part 2)