All I want for Christmas

by | Dec 15, 2020

The festive season is here and a new year is almost upon us. It goes without saying, 2020 has been a year quite unlike any other that, despite sideshows such as the US election and ongoing Brexit uncertainty, will be summed up in the history books by just one word: Covid, a word we’d hardly ever heard before last March. 

The C word aside, it was a fascinating year for the property sector. It came flying out of the traps following Boris’s victory in the December 2019 election (how long ago does thatnow feel?!), to be stopped dead in its tracks for 3 months with the rest of the world, only to emerge thereafter on steroids. 

The government put construction at the centre of the recovery and extended/introduced measures intended to boost the property market; they’ve certainly achieved that, although it’s only a matter of time before the market runs out of steam. Private equity replaced High Street Banks as a source of lending, and alternative sources of capital for developers filled the gap. 

But if all that wasn’t enough, there are enormous question marks hanging over the office, retail and industrial sectors, and we’re still to see what happens following the announcement of planning reforms. 

That’s plenty of action and plenty to consider, but for me the most interesting development of all is the change in attitude toward living and the role of the home in the new norm. The shift in focus from town to country, from convenience to space, from the workplace to the home office. I think this is a trend that stays. If you’re like me, you’ve learned you don’t need to be strapped to your desk five days a week. Working from home has proven productive and enjoyable. But while work life balance is shifting in that direction, face-to-face collaboration is where the magic really happens, and I suspect the demand for office space will normalise in the near future, with work schedules and flexible work schedules being the course de jour. 

Another thing to watch is the rental market. I note with interest that data for the rentals market is now following the same trend as out-of-town sales. Rental rates have increased an average of 5.5% in the countryside year on year, whilst they’ve fallen by about the same in the cities. That’s a very telling disparity. 

Of course, our cities will always be in demand – London is the only part of the country where prices aren’t currently surging, but they are not falling either and I suspect as, if or when the market cools and artificially stimulated demand dries up, London will not fare too badly. Everyone likes the buzz of being and working in London. I don’t think that changes. 

I think it’s massively ridiculous that an “urban exodus” is taking place, as has been sensationalised in the press of late. Certainly the changing appeal of the country is here to stay and its knock-on effects will be interesting to observe. 

Of course, it’s a gradual process – areas seldom change overnight – but it’s beginning. The levels of activity we are seeing at Hilltop from SME residential developers in areas outside of the cities have increased significantly over the last 4 or 5 months. The intention and the investment is there, and with planning regulations and zoning under the microscope the potential for indelible change to how and where we live is considerable.  

Keep powder dry into the new year. All I want for Christmas is clarity moving forward, which I believe is just around the corner. 


Interesting article? Put our experience to work…

3 Common Issues That Can Cause Drawdown Delays

Once you have your property development finance package in place and your scheme is progressing, it’s vital that...

Is Outdoor Space More Important Than Indoor Space?

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed how we think about living space. Previously, many people prioritised location, such as proximity...

Regional vs London Property Markets – Performance and Outlook

In 2020, regional house prices in England rose 8.2%, their best performance in 15 years. This is double the 4.1% annual gain of the London...

The Trials And Tribulations Of The Mezzanine Finance Piece in the Capital Stack (Real-life Case Studies)

You’re a property development business building your capital stack. Your equity and senior are in place, and now you’re approaching...

Houses or Flats – What to Build?

In the UK real estate market, the rule of thumb is that you build flats in city centres and houses in suburban, semi-rural and rural...

4 Key Metrics to Stress Test when Assessing a Property Deal

The best development finance lenders will scrutinise your property deal when deciding whether to partner with you and what loan rates...

Traditional Development Finance Lenders vs Progressive Funding Partners? 5 Big Differences

In the 13 years since the global financial crisis, there’s been a dramatic change in property development finance. Where once banks acted...

Residential Property Market Update And Opinion – June 2021

The UK residential property market recorded another significant increase in prices in May. The Nationwide announced a 1.8% month-on-month...

As seen in...

Fintech Finance logo
Logo - CoStar
Logo - Business Leader
Logo - Development Finance Today
Logo - Real Estate Capital
Logo - CoStar
Logo - Business Leader
Logo - Development Finance Today
Logo - Real Estate Capital
Logo - CoStar
Logo - Business Leader
Logo - Development Finance Today
Logo - Bridging Loan Directory
Logo - Property Week
Logo - IPE Real Assets
Logo - Business Daily News

Register your interest here


Let’s talk! Get in touch on +44 (0) 203 903 6369 
or leave us a message below and we’ll get right back to you.

2 + 6 =

  • Share This