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.
Covid has accelerated trends that support trade counters and suburban offices, where the bulk of our portfolio is invested. Delivery and click-and-collect were extremely strong last year and will continue to be so this year.
Trade counter operators such as Screwfix and Toolstation will benefit from the prime minister’s “build, build, build” message and homeowners spending more on their own homes rather than moving.
In the office sector, we have seen green shoots for smaller suites offering a self-contained, bespoke product; this has been a combination of people leaving serviced offices and/or downsizing to a higher-quality product.
Taking the focus away from London and into the regions is not a bad thing. I see opportunities for our business. Our speciality is repurposing space, and I think there will be scope for this in the office sector and, potentially, in the high street.
My biggest concern is not Brexit – I don’t think it will have a huge impact on the property market – but bank finance being in shorter supply.
Head of UK, Kennedy Wilson Europe
The trends that the pandemic has exacerbated are not about to reverse. Even after such a strong 2020, I expect industrial assets to outperform again, particularly in urban locations where it is that much harder to add new supply, with occupational trends remaining positive and more capital focusing on the space.
Occupiers will look to strike a balance between the benefits and limitations of WFH. Corporates are likely to be cautious to make long-term commitments to new space requirements. I expect take-up to be modest but improve as we go through the year, with suburban/out of town locations that offer good amenity and connectivity outperforming.
As the pandemic recedes, we are going to see a lot of real estate in need of a new purpose and that will create an opportunity for active and innovative investors. PRS has a role to play in much-needed housing demand in all markets and can play a significant role as property is repurposed.
Deputy CEO, Stoneweg
I hope that once the world opens up again the recovery will be swift, limiting the impact of the virus on our investments that are due to mature in the next 12 months.
Last year was an exciting one for Stoneweg. In December, we opened a London office and made two senior appointments, including a new head of business development, as we look to support our growing business. I hope these structures we have put in place will help us springboard into the new year, enabling us to attract new capital while enhancing our services to existing investors.
We will also look to expand our bridging loans offering to meet the need for alternative financing. Traditional lenders are being more restrictive, so this is an area where we are looking to grow. We look to expand into new markets such as the UK and Portugal, as well as increase our presence in hospitality, retail and last-mile logistics.
CEO, Target Fund Managers
Caring for seniors is higher profile now than it has been for generations. While 70 years ago, the NHS was creating geriatric wards (almost all now closed) to provide care for the frail and elderly, 2020 helped to focus the public mind on this most virtuous of vocations provided by hundreds of small family businesses.
The care home sector employs hundreds of thousands of people, providing stable, noble careers caring for ever greater numbers of our seniors. Their devotion to duty in 2020 was humbling.
These care settings are wonderful training grounds for young people to learn about working with a loving, caring attitude, learning from those with a long life behind them, and the frailty and the joy of life. The devotion and calling of these staff and their leaders has often been exemplary.
Fund managers in 2021 will increasingly have to heed the call and join the mission we have been on for 11 years: providing fit-for-purpose real estate in social care, and providing these care heroes with the appropriate settings, in care homes with en-suite wet room bedrooms. Only 26% of the beds in the sector have these facilities at present.
Principal and co-founder, Addington Capital
My hope is that the vaccines work and by mid-year we return to some sort of normality. The big question is whether we just snap back into our old ways or whether the pandemic will bring major changes to how we go about our lives and the ways we do business and interact.
I expect the pandemic to leave some profound damage to the economy, but there will also be changes for good: a stronger sense of community, a reset sense of perspective and a greater level of resilience in our healthcare and supply chain systems.
In the second half of 2021, as Covid and Brexit leave centre stage, the government will focus on growth in jobs and housing. It could have a positive impact on housing supply if it first turns back the growing politicisation of private housing – an increasing risk for BTR investors – and second, sets up a framework in planning and funding, to allow the delivery of affordable housing by those that can and want to deliver it.
Continuing to impose ever-growing obligation on the unwilling just clogs the system and frustrates the level of building we so badly need.
Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope
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Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope (part 27)