We were delighted to have been given the opportunity to feature on Phoenix TV last month, which is a news outlet that broadcasts across Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and worldwide. The purpose of the interview and news feature was to give the views of an active London based property developer on the following topics:
1. Disruption caused due to the end of the Brexit transition period and challenges that have arisen due to COVID in relation to the London residential market looking into 2021 (property prices, investment and buyers confidence)
2. Forecasts for the London commercial property market and investment opportunities in 2021
3. The state of the UK residential market following the end of the stamp duty holiday
Katherine McCullough, Head of UK Property at Merchant Land said,’ The number of viewings and enquiries on our vacant retail units in the West End have started picking up over the last few months as businesses are beginning to plan for the future post COVID. Similarly we have seen increased levels of enquiries for our vacant office spaces in the City, as businesses are starting to prepare and plan for the safe return of their employees to office working’.
A survey carried out recently (Jan 2021 – March 2021) by KPMG showed that most major global companies no longer plan to reduce their use of office space after the coronavirus pandemic as just 17% of chief executives plan to cut back on offices, down from 69% in the survey last August (KPMG). As the roll out of the vaccines continues at exceptional speed an increasing number of companies are planning to get their employees back into their offices later this year with the consensus from chief executives being that they will start to encourage staff back to their offices once the vaccination rates exceed half the population.
Similarly green shoots have started to appear in the residential market following the budget announcements earlier this month which will deliver a strong boost to house prices with the extension to the stamp duty holiday and the furlough scheme putting new life into market which has been widely reported by various forecasters. Knight Frank have also raised their forecast for annual UK house price growth in 2021 from a January estimate of zero to 5 percent after the budget ‘changed the landscape for the housing market’ (Knight Frank). Similarly, Savills upgraded its UK house price forecasts for this year to growth of four per cent, compared to its previous expectation that property values would remain flat in 2021.
Due to the speed of the vaccination programme in the UK the outlook of the both the commercial and residential sectors has not looked clearer and encouraging since the beginning of the pandemic last March. Things will not instantly go back to normal but the hope is that ‘normality’ can slowly start to emerge as the industry starts the recovery process.