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 Europe, Nuveen Real Estate
Having faced an extraordinary year, where working in the office and face-to-face interaction has been curtailed, my resolution is to prioritise team building and culture across our business and the industry.
I will maximise opportunities to meet with colleagues in-person when it is safe and possible to do so and focus on innovative ways to stay connected, even when it might need to be virtual. I hope this increased connectivity will lead to a broadening of the net, allowing for a more diverse mix of colleagues to be able to contribute to our ideas and values.
Director, Heron Financial
During the first lockdown, there was a forced adoption of technology, with mortgage lenders trusting automatic and desktop valuations. I hope this will continue as technology has greatly improved the process, meaning that data-driven valuations can be far speedier and more objective.
As with all big changes in the residential market, such as those to stamp duty back in 2018, there is likely to be a ground swell of activity followed by a natural lull. Come April, there will be a collective catching of breath after two major changes: the end of the stamp duty holiday and the current Help To Buy.
But despite the predictions of doom and gloom into the new financial year, I suspect there won’t be as much of a drop off as expected. Demand will always outstrip supply; I just hope we can get through this first quarter unscathed to be ready for what’s to come.
Chief executive, Rentplus
We would like to see more done to particularly help key workers and others on relatively low incomes who want to own their home to achieve this. Given the economic uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 and Brexit, as well as the furlough scheme ending, even if the housing market dips after the stamp duty holiday ends in March, it will remain difficult for aspirant first-time buyers to gain a foot on the property ladder.
This is especially so given the public-sector wage freeze and tightened mortgage lending criteria, with ever-higher deposits, which we do not expect to ease for many months.
While we recognise initiatives such as ‘First Homes’, the government needs to do more to truly deliver on its promise to turn “Generation Rent” into “Generation Buy”.
With government debt rising to record levels, the solution is to do more to encourage privately funded, affordable housing providers to fill the gaps. Affordable rent-to-buy products with no deposit required are an attractive option for those struggling to save for a lump sum and should be scaled up to meet potential demand.
Operations director, Solomon New Homes
Thriving commercial interests have positive effects on all aspects of life, and I hope the UK’s exit from Europe will create more opportunities than problems.
I would like to see the property market remain resilient so it can anchor opportunities in the varied industries it supports. Professionally, I’d like to see my business continue to strengthen its market position with the exciting pipeline we have created. I expect that the trepidation facing industry as it leaves Europe will see a growth in British industries working smarter and harder to negate any issues.
I believe we will see new growth towns and cities become forerunners for living and investing. High levels of government and private investment to regenerate and reinvigorate previously untapped areas will be a boon for anybody working or residing in those areas. Traditional, major city investment areas may find themselves with increasing opposition.
MD, Assael Architecture
The world has changed drastically, and the buildings that we inhabit will have to adapt too. With lockdown forcing the majority of people to work from home, many of us have re-evaluated how we want to live and work.
Over the next year, we will see increased importance being placed on high-quality homes with integrated workspace and amenities.
The past few months have also reinforced the importance of local communities, and 2021 will see a reimagining of how we can use space to alleviate the loneliness experienced by many during the pandemic.
We expect purpose-designed co-living and later living schemes to become more popular, with their prioritisation of communal space, amenities and services.
The rapid growth of e-commerce has hit the already struggling high street hard. We need more logistics space near city centres and I hope 2021 will bring growing recognition of the value of converting distressed retail assets to last-mile logistics facilities.
Co-locational developments will be key to supporting post-pandemic places. By building new homes alongside light industry, retail or offices, we can maximise land value and reimagine city centres.
Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope
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Forecast for 2021: looking ahead with hope (part 39)