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.

John Spencer

Chief executive, BizSpace

I hope we’ll use the unique experience of 2020 to recognise that we can do things differently and, in some cases, better.

Few people want to work from home day in day out, but knowing that teams can work effectively from anywhere and understanding the possibilities afforded by technology could help us live more efficient, more balanced and more sustainable lives.

For many subsectors of the property market, 2021 may be another difficult year. Logistics, industrial and workshops will be strong; retail will continue to experience challenges; and it will be interesting to see how the recovery materialises in the offices sector and whether there will be a move to more regional or local locations.

Working patterns will continue to change as we find a new normal that is likely to combine elements of remote working with being together with others, though not necessarily always in one central location.

Service, experience and flexibility will be major factors for occupiers in 2021, with businesses increasingly looking at property more as a service than an asset.

Christopher Daniel

Christopher Daniel

Founding partner, Quadrant

I expect the retail market to face significant challenges in 2021, despite the few green shoots of recovery.

The extent of any recovery is dependant to a greater or lesser degree on Brexit. However, whatever the outcome, cost inflation due to tariffs will apply further pressure on retailers’ profitability, which will feed through into downward pressure on rents.

Additionally, with the rent recovery moratorium extended until March, it’s unlikely retailers will be able to pay a year’s worth of rent and so we expect to see another round of CVAs as retailers protect their positions.

On the positive side, it is often observed that human nature tends to overestimate the short term impact of significant events such as a pandemic. It’s been no different when it comes to predicting the future of the office sector. I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if we see a faster return to the office and in greater numbers than has been predicted in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Hugh Seaborn

Hugh Seaborn

Chief executive, Cadogan

Last year showed community spirit is stronger than ever. Despite the many challenges, we have seen the best of human kindness and businesses rallying together. I believe that this will continue well beyond 2021.

A ‘place’ is not about the buildings but the people in them and things that happen around them. As we emerge safely to enjoy so much that we have been deprived of over the last year and physical retail reinvents itself, the best destinations will be focused on working collaboratively with their unique business and cultural communities to create joyful experiences, stoking a curiosity to explore.

Following the pandemic, there will be a need for physical connection, both with each other and with inspiring places.

Michael El-Kassir, Managing Director of GRE Assets (1)

Michael El-Kassir

Managing director, GRE Assets

With the pause to the housing market earlier in 2020, the first lockdown created pent-up demand. Reopening the market, along with government incentives, created a surge in buyers. While UK-wide we have seen a rise in house prices and activity, it is the South East that really stands out.

The region offers the near-perfect package of high-quality, affordable homes in popular regeneration areas with excellent connectivity to London. Demand here is outstripping supply, something we expect to see and intend to continue to address into 2021.

We already have properties available in Ashford and are exploring other opportunities across Kent and the wider South East, to ensure our clients receive the best investment options. We also anticipate that the recent Covid-19 vaccine news will kickstart a positive wave from house hunters in the new year.

Even though it will take some time for the vaccines to be fully rolled out, it is enough to give people the hope they need to start their property searches. We hope to see buy-to-let investors returning to the market.

Continue to part nine here

Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope