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.
Head of UK, CC Land
The post-Covid fallout, macro-economics and geo-political situation will all be important factors for property in 2021. However, for me, the key ingredient is always sentiment.
There is a hope and desire that the current suffering doesn’t become a scourge on society for the next decade and beyond. I expect the vaccine to take some time to roll out and that the return to normality will be more organic. I am also confident that, in spite of the buzz around working from home, the move away from the office will not be a long-term structural change.
Cynics will point to CC Land’s large office portfolio to suggest this is a far from an independent view. However, speaking to friends and occupiers, most want to be back working in a first-class business community, benefiting from all the amenity and vibrancy these mass collaborations bring.
Geeta Nanda OBE
CEO, Metropolitan Thames Valley
I hope all the challenges of 2020 mean it is a year where we all renew our efforts to make a difference and bring some joy back to people’s lives. Key to this will be kick-starting recovery.
Delivering affordable homes to rent and buy has to be at the heart of this. Building more social housing can play a powerful role in supporting the supply chain and unlocking developments. We also must build more homes for those people who got us through the pandemic, as well as those who need the safety net a good quality, secure and affordable home can provide.
The new Affordable Homes Programme and planning White Paper are key opportunities to push forward on meeting the challenges of the housing crisis. I hope to see the housing market stabilise, with international investment making a return. We will focus on our role across communities supporting people impacted by the pandemic and pushing forward with building new homes. Personally, I can’t wait to get back to the office, to support my local coffee shops and to make the most of going on holiday when we can.
Senior MD and country head, Hines UK
I think 2021 will be the year we really see the impact of the past 12 months unfold, putting downward pressure on rents in most sectors, excluding industrial. I expect there to be more repurposing, brought about by further falls in value in the hardest-hit sectors, and a continued flow of new capital into residential.
I expect the tone of the great office debate to become more positive as occupiers announce that offices remain very much part of their future strategy, but on a more flexible basis for staff. I believe corporate culture is really important though and that will necessitate a fixed base.
Senior partner and group chairman, Knight Frank
My number one wish is that our towns, cities, communities and workplaces are allowed to get ‘back to work’. This must be the year of recovery.
With light at the end of the tunnel and Brexit done, we must engage with our industry bodies and the government to highlight the UK’s huge potential to those operating in the global market.
In terms of markets, retail will be repurposed and strengthened. Logistics will continue to build. Hotels, food and beverage will recover. Offices will re-establish their footing. With demographics and work patterns supporting their growth, we also expect a strong year for student property, residential, PRS, senior living, healthcare, data centres, studios and automotive.
From a Knight Frank perspective, our push towards better balance and embracing all things ESG will make greater strides. With a return to normality, we are reminded of the huge value of engagement with family, friends and colleagues.
Senior partner, Clearbell
Like most of us, I hope the virus can be brought under control and the vaccine will enable our lives to return to some degree of normality – including getting our Clearbell team back together. I’m optimistic that we will begin to see some green shoots economically.
Looking to the property market, we would like to see pricing for more challenged assets come down and stabilise to provide investment opportunities. For stabilised assets, a return to value growth would be welcome.
Finally, it is crucial that the government listens to the property industry and policy starts to take a more balanced view, particularly in relation to the rent moratorium and other restrictions. It is important that the government recognises that continuing to support zombie companies is not a good or sustainable strategy. Policy needs to rebalance to support property owners, with the recognition that property is the bedrock of a number of pension funds – and therefore pensioners’ income.
Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope
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Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope (part 19)