Sponsors and partners of UK Property Forums have made a plea for stability in their hopes for 2023.
We asked members of our expert panel what they hope for in the new year and stability was a recurring theme after the bizarre events of 2022.
Our question, What is your biggest hope(s) for the property world in 2023?, prompted a host of pleas for less of the turmoil of recent times – but not everyone was optimistic it would happen.
Jonny Denton, group sales and land manager for Darcliffe Homes, said: “I imagine I speak for everyone involved in property when saying all we can hope for is some certainty.
“It doesn’t feel a lot to ask but to have a year without political instability and changes would be very useful! I feel if the Government can quietly go about its business and not feel the need to spook everyone once a month, we may see some confidence appear again.
“It sounds dull but I hope to see 2023 as the year of normality, a normal market, neither red hot nor stale, but one when properties are priced right and presented well. That equals sales.
“It would also be nice if interest rates stop being the topic of conversation. It seems clear that we have been spoilt for 10 years or so and that they are now at a level where they, perhaps, should have always been. The hope is they find a sensible level to settle at so consumers realise it is what it is and it becomes the new normal – and then decide to get on with their lives again.
“The property world has had various challenges to deal with over the last few years but another hope for 2023 is some level of common sense and service implemented to the planning system.
“I fear this may be wishful thinking but let’s see. I have seen two talented planning consultants leave private practices recently to return to local authorities. That in itself does bring some optimism.
“We can also hope for material prices to stabilise and remain consistent and for land values to drop to reasonable levels – but that would be being greedy wouldn’t it?
“I wish everyone in the Thames Valley a successful 2023.”
Mike Shearn, chief operating officer for Haslams Estate Agents, said: “I bet even Nostradamus would have struggled to predict what happened last year. There are always wildcard events but who would have predicted so many within 12 months?
“Of course, many of these events are inter-related and it is still impossible to predict the consequences but, irrespective of the financial implications, buyer confidence and sentiment has undoubtedly been severely undermined and this will take time to resolve.
“In all likelihood, the first half of 2023 will be difficult. Transactions and values are likely to be down as people take stock of what the new normal means to them.
“Good and experienced agents will prove their worth and, consequently, they will get stronger while others will struggle.
“As inflation recedes and mortgage rates reduce, I hope that H2 will usher in confidence and bring life back into the market. Rentals will remain strong throughout the year although we will not see the income growth we have experienced over the last two years.
“And finally, my perennial hope remains that the country can create a workable long term solution that fixes the country’s housing crisis. That has to start with matching supply with demand and so, fundamentally, we need to create more new homes at affordable prices and in places people want and like to live.”
Philip Waddy, managing director of WWA, said: “In a word – stability. Given the current economic and political conditions I can’t see that stability coming any time soon.
“In our world the lead in time for projects is significant and even the slightest economic pressure can kill a project stone dead. Combine this with high inflation, a dysfunctional planning system and skilled labour shortages in the construction sector and many conclude we are heading for a perfect storm.
“The Government would do well to create conditions for the economy to grow. That growth must realistically be led by the private sector in the first instance, given the amount of debt faced by UK PLC.
“Reform of planning is always a huge political gamble but it needs to happen soon if we are to avoid another lengthy and damaging recession.
“Making it easier for things to happen and entrepreneurship to flourish will see us bounce back more quickly from the present downturn.”
David Jones, managing director of Evans Jones, said: “My Hope for 2023 is best summed up with a quote from a former Prime Minister – strong and stable.
“The property world is currently in a state of turmoil, with many factors negatively impacting the market, including material shortages, labour shortages, restriction of mortgage availability, rising interest rates, inflation, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and continued lack of confidence following the Truss/Kwasi financial fiasco of October last year.
“Add to this recent Government planning policy announcements, largely seen as pandering to the Nimby brigade (National Planning Policy Framework issued for consultation on December 22).
“All of which, cumulatively, adds to uncertainty, restricts housing delivery and slows growth.
“On a more positive note, I would expect tender prices to become more competitive, thus for those who are planning projects this year, costs should be lower.
“In 2023, the return of some stability in the market would be very much welcomed however, my expectation is that we will see inertia in the market at least until the next general election.”
Chris Holdup, associate director for mode Transport Planning, said: “The need for investment in infrastructure to enable delivery of planned development has featured highly in conferences we attended in 2022, including high-quality sustainable travel links.
“We hope to see a continued shift in embracing the value of sustainable travel as a means to unlocking development sites and in turn reducing the need for higher capital outlay on road building.
“But this still requires greater support at a national level, both in terms of policy setting and funding, and we look forward to what this year may bring in this regard.”
Karen Jones, partner and head of planning and environmental law for Blandy & Blandy, said: “I’d like to see some stability in the planning world – there has been so much change and the tinkering round the edges has only added to the difficulties of the system.
“Backbench pressure on the Government to amend housing policy has impacted and the targets we need for housing are under threat. There is an inability to deal with Green Belt boundary review and the local decision making that has been promised has, so far, consistently failed to deliver.
“The glimmer of hope on the horizon is the consultation document on proposed reforms to national planning policy and the indicative markup of the NPPF, which arrived on December 22, 2022. We can only hope that it will be the start of something more positive.”
David Bainbridge, planning director for Savills Oxford, said: “I foresee continued momentum in the regional real estate market in 2023. Commercially this will be driven by the strong appetite from investors, landlords and tenants for property across the Thames Valley and Oxford to Cambridge area, including knowledge clusters for science, technology and education and hotspots for the logistics sector.
“Residentially, the demand for new homes continues to far outstrip supply partly fuelling an increasing gap in the affordability of homes, which is unlikely to abate significantly any time soon.
‘Careful thought is required as to how we plan for new infrastructure and development whilst protecting the environment.
“Emerging changes to the planning system are looking to hand more control to the local level and achieve a balance between regeneration and use of previously developed land whilst acknowledging that meeting commercial and housing needs will require expansion of our cities and towns. My hope is that investor confidence remains high through the year.”
Tom Fraser, head of office at Savills Cambridge, who is also a director within the development team, said: “My biggest hope is that the projected house price falls are as shallow as possible and normal trading conditions – particularly for residential development land – return as soon as practically possible.
“This will ensure the nation can continue to pursue its target of 300,000 new homes per year. Here in the east, a scarcity of development sites continues to underpin land values to some extent and we’re still experiencing relatively strong demand – especially for well-designed long-term strategic sites in primary locations.
“There are signs that some degree of confidence is returning to the market and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.”
Jon Silversides, partner, commercial for Carter Jonas, said: “I expect Oxford’s life sciences sector to show resilience in the face of economic pressures. A prolonged period of high demand set against a shortage of supply has created an increase in developer – particularly international ones –activity within the life-science sector.
“There is, however, a planning lag for the delivery of new buildings, so the much-heralded quantum of life science demand has few built options to consider.
“This year should, therefore, be a marquee year for the few developers who have schemes under construction. A prime example of this will be The Oxford Science Park where our clients are delivering The Iversen building this Summer.
“Totalling around 86,000 sq ft, this building is Oxford’s first speculative ‘lab ready’ building, being able to offer companies a cheaper and quicker occupation route due to the enhanced base specification, with fitted solutions also on offer.”
Brian Dowling, partner at Boyes Turner, said: “The main thing I would hope for is calm, with inflation coming back under control, so that we can all have some confidence in how build costs, wages, and interest rates will increase in future. That should give all sides of the land and property market some confidence in the future outlook and encourage more development and more deals.
“It is a more distant hope but it would also be good to see a change in attitude towards development and property from the Government, and a more equitable approach towards planning and permitting new development. At the moment, it feels there is no real imperative to build more homes, in the areas where people need to live and work.
“Ultimately, this is resulting in more and more pressure being loaded onto the young.”
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