In the words of Slade’s Noddy Holder, “IT’S CHRISTMAS!”… or nearly, anyway. It seems like only yesterday we were putting the finishing touches to our review of 2014.
Twelve months down the line and on the face of it, the property landscape doesn’t look that different. Occupiers are still snapping up space across all property classes and investors are still splashing the cash, to the extent that some sectors have experienced record transaction volumes and values.
However, closer scrutiny reveals that this is in itself quite an achievement given the tumultuous events of the past year, and a more accurate assessment would be plus ça change, as our review of 2015 attests.
In the run-up to the general election, everyone was worried about the impact of political uncertainty, expecting yet fearing another coalition, but not knowing what hue(s) it would be. Who knew the hue would be pure blue? That was the very definition of a political shock. Yet the unexpected outright victory by the Tories has meant the industry hasn’t felt the anticipated reverberations or slowdown. What we have seen is the government suddenly try to deliver on a manifesto primarily intended to win votes, which ain’t easy. Encouragingly, it has also attempted to grapple with the housing crisis, which has to be applauded even if it does continue to focus its energy on helping people buy at the expense of those who may never be able to afford to.
It’s a not dissimilar story on the global front. With the Greek and Chinese economies plunging into and teetering on the brink of crisis respectively, the word that springs to mind is volatile.
Yet despite fears the influx of overseas money from the likes of China, Russia and the Middle East might slow down in 2015, we’ve seen little evidence so far. Rather the reverse. Indeed, such is the continued demand for UK property that the level of offshore investment attracted the scrutiny of David Cameron, who promptly called for a clampdown on “dirty money”. It has also sparked arguably the biggest debate of the year, over where we are in the property cycle, with more and more in the second half joining the ranks of those daring to call the top.
The mood was certainly buoyant at Mipim and Mapic, as it was at our own events: the Property Awards, RESI Awards and RESI and Student Accommodation conferences. If further evidence were required of a sector in rude health, look no further than the return of the ‘godfather of sheds’ John Cutts and the burgeoning ‘proptech’ movement.
Of course, it hasn’t all been good news. We lost industry legends Andrew Rosenfeld and Raymond Mould, who I had the pleasure of interviewing during my first stint on the magazine in the early 2000s. And the dark shadows cast by the terror attacks in Paris linger, with the decision to launch air strikes on Syria only adding to the sense of unease.
Yet they have not destroyed our spirit of optimism and hope. If anything, they may have strengthened it. So in that vein, Property Week would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.