Who would have thought the industry could bounce back in such exuberant - in some sectors, arguably over-exuberant - fashion this year?
It has not so much been a game of two halves as a game of four quarters. After a sluggish start caused by lingering nervousness about the economy, the second quarter saw a significant uplift in activity, to the extent that in some parts of the country, there is now a significant imbalance between supply and demand across most asset classes, not to mention record rents routinely being set.
Housing has, of course, been one of the biggest talking points of the year - with the London market grabbing most of the headlines thanks to some chunky deals, the weight of foreign investment coming in (met with murmurs of discontent about said weight) and the nascent growth of the PRS. Across the country as a whole, it is the seemingly intractable problem of the housing shortage that has garnered the column inches and inevitably become an early pre-election hobby horse.
Another massive story this year has been the resurgence of the regions, which 18 months ago were not looking too clever. Not only did the £6bn worth of single-asset transactions in Q3 outstrip London investment for the first time since Q1 2011, regional investment in the quarter was higher than in any quarter since 2006, according to Lambert Smith Hampton’s Q3 UK Investment Transactions data.
We have also seen investment in locations and properties that might historically have otherwise been considered secondary. And what about the whole devolution revolution? Who saw that coming? One minute, it was all about Scotland gaining more power, then weeks later, all the talk was of the English regions, with Greater Manchester announced as the first super-council to benefit from greater autonomy. The regions have also seen a boost in spec development as developers look to cash in on the possibility of chunky prelets for schemes they had been sitting on throughout the recession.
Underpinning this has been a welcome improvement in the availability of finance, with more lenders entering the market - and taking risk, although reassuringly, swerving the reckless LTV ratios of before. How many massive deals have we seen this year? HSBC Tower, the Gherkin, to name but a couple and there could be bigger to come, with Brookfield and QIA still circling Songbird.
It is not just property that has been changing hands. What a monumental year it has been for agency mergers and acquisitions, the DTZ sale to a group led by TPG Capital prompting the inevitable question of whether the new powerhouse could break the CBRE/JLL stranglehold. Arguably one of the most audacious corporate deals, meanwhile, was pulled off by Urban & Civic chairman Nigel Hugill, who reversed his company into Terrace Hill and raised £170m in the process in an old-style, highly complex deal.
However, every cloud and all that. The surge in property deals has put the construction industry under mounting pressure as a result of soaring material costs and the shortage of skilled labourers. It has sparked fears of a housing bubble, although these have receded as the market has cooled in recent months. And it has prompted mutterings from some that we’re approaching the top of the market, in certain parts of London anyway.
For more on the highs and lows of 2014, visit our Review of the Year section. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed pulling it together. In the meantime, Property Week would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.