After a tumultuous 2020, property’s leading figures share their hopes and expectations for 2021 as the year gets off to a rocky start with yet another lockdown. 

Amanda Clack

Amanda Clack

Head of strategic advisory, CBRE

My hope is that we keep some of the positives from 2020 and continue to embrace flexibility in ways of working and foster a better sense of community and collaboration.

I hope that we focus on the connectivity between the physical, human and digital, putting people at the heart, with a focus on levelling up across UK cities, rebuilding our economy, creating jobs and enabling thriving places that provide the connectivity necessary for the modern world.

We moved forward a decade in our thinking and ways of work in 10 months – let’s not lose all that we gained.

There will be continuing uncertainty in the first half of 2021, but I am hopeful of a rapid recovery in the second half that will release a pent-up demand for investment into the UK – particularly on the ‘beds, sheds and meds’ sectors, which will continue to see strong growth. What we need, though, is to get certainty and confidence back into the markets post Covid-19 (by the vaccine) and post-Brexit.

Robert Wolstenholme

Robert Wolstenholme

Founder and chief executive, Trilogy Real Estate

The reverberations of the pandemic and Brexit will make 2021 a difficult year to navigate. Proactive asset management and cash preservation will be our focus. We need to protect ourselves both physically and economically but continue to learn from change. While it will be tough, 2021 will bring opportunity if we can adapt.

As we look at commercial buildings in London, it’s difficult to compete with overseas capital offering four or five times 2012 pricing levels while office and retail leasing agents tell us there isn’t much of a market to speak of.

This will take time to fix. We will remain cautious but acutely aware that supply remains tight. When the occupational markets turn, change might come quickly.

The value differential between urban and suburban real estate is altering; we are all asking if this will be permanent.

We have put some money into a suburban office strategy, but will not lose focus on London and Manchester. We look for unloved buildings we can transform into inspiring places. We believe demand will be driven by environmental concerns and the increasing gap between the haves and have nots.

Michael Dean

Michael Dean

Principal co-founder, Avamore Capital

Covid is going to be ‘with us’ for a while longer and we’ll soon see the impacts of Brexit. However, the UK property industry benefits from a huge amount of resilience so it’s clear that, whatever is thrown at us, the market can adapt and push ahead.

At Avamore, we will focus on growth and new opportunities. We’ve seen an increasing need for our ‘finish and exit’ product, as a solution for developers stuck on part-complete schemes.

We have also been fortunate enough to work with our funding partners to re-introduce competitive, relevant products to the market. We are close to reaching £250m of transactions since we started, and we expect to double that in the next 12 to 18 months as we continue to grow. We were the first in the market to launch the ‘finish and exit’ because we saw a need not being met. We expect that innovative approach to be required in a post-Covid marketplace.

Tom Wallace, Re-Leased

Tom Wallace

Chief executive, Re-Leased

The first UK lockdown signalled a period of uncertainty for commercial real estate. The importance of using data to navigate change became immediately apparent and this will be further emphasised in 2021.

Our industry has been forced to move towards an evidence-based approach, as businesses adapt at speed to the ever-evolving impact of the crisis. Periods of enormous change have historically sparked innovation.

This year will see new and innovative models for property operations emerge, which place data at their core. Our own data has been powerful in providing UK-wide insight into rising trends such as rent collection, vacancy rates, average lease lengths and the turnover rent model.

A relatively positive picture is emerging in terms of recovery. The initial fall in rent collection has been trending towards recovery, even in the hard-hit retail sector, and we expect this to continue as the vaccine rolls out and business begins, at some point, to return to some form of normality. The needs of tenants are changing quickly and it is important for landlords to stay on top of these trends and adapt their offering accordingly.

Continue to part 13 here

Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope