So here we are, at the end of 2018, bloody but still unbowed…
If only. Nobody was deluding themselves back in January that 2018 was going to be a walk in the park, what with Brexit, retail going off the rails and the housing crisis. But who could have predicted how unrelentingly chaotic, unsettling and bizarre it would be?
Things didn’t exactly get off to an auspicious start with the FT’s Presidents Club revelations, the incident that we kick off our end-of-year review with.
As you will recall, we were one of the only publications to interview those who had actually attended the event. Some protested it was for charity and not as sleazy as portrayed, but quite why they thought it was OK, just months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal had broken, to attend an all-male event where they were waited on by hostesses in skimpy black outfits, I don’t know – and I said as much on this page.
Find out more - Special report: Presidents Club fallout
On the plus side, people were on their best behaviour at Mipim and the scandal not only sparked important debate about diversity and the gender pay gap, it also galvanised the industry into making what I hope will prove lasting commitments to change.
If the Presidents Club was a dark hour for the industry, the relentless stream of bad news from the retail sector marked a long, dark year, as high-street name after high-street name either went under or sought a CVA – even when they didn’t appear to need to, much to the irritation of landlords cast as the villains to the retailer victims in the scenario. Shopping centre deal volumes fell to a record low in the third quarter as a result.
It wasn’t a great 2018 for the prime London residential sector either, although some argue that its woes have been overstated.
Bright eyed and bushy pony-tailed
Fortunately, there were parts of the market that proved resilient, insouciant even – the industrial sector for one. Despite fears last year that it was in a bubble, it has gone from strength to strength this year, stoked by strong take-up from retailers, particularly of the online variety.
The co-working revolution also gathered momentum as specialists such as WeWork, the subject of our most-read feature of the year – on its festival in Kent – were joined by more traditional landlords such as The Crown Estate and Landsec in the sector du jour. And the overall office sector held up surprisingly well, too.
At the start of 2018, the experts were not optimistic. JLL thought investment volumes would be around the £55bn mark for the year. Now, it is forecasting volumes in the mid to late £50bn range, despite an anticipated Brexit-related slowdown in the fourth quarter.
Ah, Brexit, the bane of everyone’s existence. I am sure I am not the only one who would like to find the nearest cave and hunker down until the furore has passed.
Given that this is unlikely to happen any time soon, I will, just for you, fortify myself with turkey and mince pies and return bright eyed and bushy pony-tailed for our first print issue of 2019 on 11 January.
In the meantime, you will still be able to get your daily fix of breaking property news and views online over the next few weeks. After all, this is the industry that never sleeps, so nor do we. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Review of the year: The age of unreason
- Currently reading
The industry’s darkest – and finest – hours of 2018