Developer and Thames Tap partner Jansons Property has put together a summary of how its experts see the evolution of the commercial property market through the current crisis, in six key sectors. Managing director Andy Jansons (pictured centre) offers an expert overview.
How is the current market disruption, caused by the coronavirus, going to affect the commercial property market?
There is the immediate, of course, but how are various sectors going to perform and emerge from the asset value and demand dynamics after recovery?
In the Thames Valley, we have reached record industrial and office rents and land values, not seen in previous cycles. Previous cycles in the Thames Valley have generally peaked at similar rents.
In addition, there has already been a structural shift in the retail market to online shopping and in the office market to flexible working.
To cover each section in turn:
Warehousing & Industrial
With the boom in online retailing, this is a very robust sector. With the current disruption, there is further demand for online deliveries, and this would seem to be the way of the future.
In conjunction with the increasing loss of brownfield land to residential, there is a lack of industrial and warehousing land coming forward.
Furthermore, local authorities are under pressure to release land for residential development, whereas industrial and warehousing supply is not thought a priority. I foresee increased demand, leading to higher rental values and further yield compression.
The demise of the high street has been well recorded. This trend will continue as those retailers on the brink will unfortunately now be pushed over the edge.
Town centres will become more office and residential orientated. Once again during this disruptive period, food retailers come to the fore.
Larger food store formats have for some time been retracting whilst the emergence of more localised Aldi and Lidl stores have become the market engines.
We have all been learning how to use online videoconferencing and embracing the digital world as far as getting work done and communicating with our colleagues and network.
Flexible office space has already become very popular with the emergence of We-Work and the strength of Regus and many other service operators.
I do believe that we are all learning to work more flexibly and, dare I say, old dogs are learning new tricks, which will change the face of office demand in the future.
We are already saying that we do not need to attend so many project meetings in person, many of which we can conduct via Teams or Zoom from our offices or indeed homes.
Certainly, in the short term we see a fall in demand for offices and pressure on rental values.
This is a new sector for Jansons, driven by an increasing awareness of a growing elderly population with all its associated requirements at various stages of life.
There is still a very strong demand for care homes, together with an emerging new sector of care villages, which typically require 10 acres plus of development land.
The student housing market was already polarising to the strong universities and cities. Pension funds were readily investing and forward funding student housing developments on direct lets.
Prior to the current disruption this was already being tested, with funds preferring stronger cities with more than one university.
However, universities have more than survived the demographic dip from which we are emerging, and this will continue to improve over the forthcoming years as more domestic students come on stream.
The primary demand really is for up and let accommodation blocks as opposed to forward funding opportunities, but these are still possible in the right location.
The jury is out regarding future international students, which is a concern given the high level of fees they pay compared to domestic students.
There remains a requirement in the UK for 300,000 new homes every year. This is still not being met and work on current development sites has mostly been halted.
Whilst house builders have mostly placed acquiring new land and spend on planning applications on hold, we do not see this changing the outlook for the housing market and continue to purchase strategic land to supply the house building industry.
Meanwhile the housing sector continues to be dogged by issues of poor build quality which is likely to continue if there is a downward pressure on costs to maintain margins.
At Jansons, we recognise that property is a long-term business and so we are still actively pursuing opportunities in the market. We have adapted to a new way of working to ensure that for us, it is very much business as usual.
Image: Jansons expert team (l-r): Huw Williams, Ben Roberts, Andy Jansons, Tom Jansons, Paul Nash.
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