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, Cromwell Property Group
As we enter 2021 and new trading relationships, we must remember that the UK is home to amazing companies and people at the forefront of global innovation, creativeness and adaptability. The UK will continue to thrive by providing goods and services that customers and the rest of the world wants.
One of the major lessons Covid-19 has taught us is that disruption is something we must embrace and even in uncertainty there will also be opportunities for investors with the right skillset and outlook.
The office will be redefined as a place of culture, collaboration, creativity and connection and sectors such as tech, creative industries and life sciences will continue to flourish.
In 2020, we remembered how to listen. Reduced travel has meant more time to engage with our customers, colleagues and stakeholders. It is vital that we continue these discussions, especially around ESG, diversity and inclusion, and implement the lessons without delay.
Chief executive, HUB
This year will see the continued growth of the BTR sector, but its value is much broader than mere investment returns. BTR can be the renewal catalyst for city centres struggling for purpose following the collapse of traditional retail. The social value of bringing people and vibrancy back to city centres cannot be overstated, but the provision of residential buildings alone can only do so much.
For example, our recent planning permission for 2,000 homes in Digbeth, Birmingham, includes extensive ground-floor creative workshops, to deliver diversity and animation to a regenerating area, rather than waiting for standard retail tenants that may never arrive. If, as predicted, Covid results in more flexible work patterns, renewed neighbourhoods must offer a strong live-work solution and imaginative, interactive ground floors are essential to that.
Managing director, X-Press Legal Services
My hope is that the housing sector stabilises again after Covid-19 and Brexit. The arrival of a vaccine will be a big boost to the economy and I hope this will leverage a return to the UK housing sector being ‘open for business’ again.
We’ve urged home seekers to take advantage of the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday before it ends on 31 March 2021 and given how busy we were towards the end of 2020, it looks like many have listened.
I hope that as people have had to spend more time in their own homes last year that big decisions about whether they stay and renovate or consider moving as part of their retirement plan will come into play and the housing sector will continue to develop.
I expect the housing sector to slow down in the early part of this year as the economy recovers and we adjust to the new Brexit conditions. House prices may remain stable or drop slightly during this period. However, this is good news for homeowners in that mortgage rates may stay low for longer.
Economic uncertainty brought about Brexit could make early rate rises more likely.
Managing director, Linkcity
I hope the volume of market activity seen in Q4 2020 continues with the successful rollout of a vaccine in the UK. For Linkcity, in 2021, we will focus on identifying new opportunities and developing existing partnerships to deliver more places for people to live, study and work.
I expect the residential, mixed-use, regeneration and student accommodation sectors to remain strong. The fundamentals are there and 2021 should see a bounce back in student accommodation, with students eager to join higher education and fully participate in the on-campus university experience.
Continuing growth can be expected in the residential market too. While Brexit has become a secondary concern in a post Covid-19 recovery context, it might present more of a challenge in 2021. An international group like Bouygues is already well-equipped to deal with logistic and cross-border sourcing issues for both labour and materials.
Managing partner, Valor Real Estate Partners
My biggest hope is to see the back of Covid, with mass vaccinations leading to herd immunity, the end of social restrictions and the opening up of travel. My second biggest hope is to see Tottenham Hotspur win the league for the first time in 60 years!
I would also welcome UK political discourse finally moving on from Brexit. It will also be interesting to see the changes in US foreign policy under a Biden administration and how that impacts a post-Brexit UK.
For real estate, the weight of money flowing in is unlikely to show any respite as investor allocations to the sector continue to rise. I expect logistics to maintain its strong performance, with tenant demand supported by e-commerce growth and post-covid economic recovery. Specifically, urban, in-fill logistics should remain the part of the market where the supply-demand imbalance is most acute and where I expect we will see the strongest rental growth in 2021.
Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope
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Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope (part 32)