If you look out the windows of the Property Week office in Croydon, you can see cranes in almost every direction, most of them hoisting building materials up and down residential towers.
Normal life may have ground to a standstill during the pandemic, but residential construction and housebuilding have not. Neither, of course, has house buying. Turbocharged by the stamp duty holiday and Covid-fuelled demand for bigger homes with outside space, the market has gone gangbusters, sending average UK house prices soaring 13.2% in the year to June, according to the ONS House Price Index.
But can the momentum be maintained, or is this just the last hurrah before the Brexit- and Covid-sparked materials and labour shortages (and resulting cost hikes) hit home? Will house prices continue to rise, or will the typically quiet summer months lead to an atypically quiet winter? Is boom about to turn into bust?
These are just some of the questions that will be debated at this year’s hybrid in-person and virtual RESI Convention, which is taking place at Celtic Manor from 8-9 September.
The theme this year is ‘The Age of Responsibility’ and as former Savills supremo, now independent consultant, Dominic Grace rightly notes, the responsibility will be a heavy one for the residential sector to bear.
But bear it, it must if it is to address the many challenges the sector faces. ‘How to survive spiralling costs’ and ‘Decarbonising the housing sector’ are just two of the big issues that will be debated at RESI. Delegates will also hear Rightmove’s Timothy Bannister reveal what sort of homes people really want post pandemic – and what sort they don’t.
Ahead of what is set to be the most important RESI yet, keynote speaker David Partridge talks in this RESI-focused issue about the importance of the ‘S’ in ESG and why at Brent Cross, Argent Related wanted to focus on “schools, affordable housing, accessible housing and housing with lots of different tenures”.
Social value is also a subject close to Mark Quinn’s heart. That’s why the Quinn Estates boss is so keen to include sports hubs in its schemes. It is also why, inspired by the late, great Tony Pidgley, Quinn likes to build community-oriented schemes – and buy sites no one else wants.
Quinn, like Pidgley, embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that has made the UK residential sector the powerhouse it is. It will need to call on all that entrepreneurialism to ensure the market continues to grow.
The biggest challenge will be to ensure that growth does not come at the expense of quality – a danger London councils are alert to, with almost half looking to ban commercial-to-resi PDR. Neither can it come at the expense of affordability. As Guy Horne, boss of HSPG, notes, “the affordability crisis has long reached breaking point”.
On that score, the 117-home modular scheme being developed by Canvas and Beyond Housing bodes well with its emphasis on affordable rents and shared ownership, but more of this ilk is needed. The government, too, needs to do its bit, not least to address the climate crisis and ensure First Homes succeeds where Starter Homes failed.
Join us at RESI to have your say on these and the many other big issues facing the sector in ‘The Age of Responsibility’.
Click here to find out more and book your ticket. I look forward to seeing you there!