The Year Ahead

03 Jan 18

The New Year is an exciting time, one for reflection on the previous year as well as a chance to look at the opportunities ahead. The beginning of the year is also an ideal time to make wrong predictions, completely miss the mark on the year’s trends and put your cards down for all to see. So with that in mind, here’s what I’m going to be looking for during the year ahead.

Increased influence from Central Government 

As I reflected on the announcements at the end of last year – a potential stamp duty cut, increased funding for garden villages and increasing centralised powers – it seemed inevitable that Central Government is going to have a big role to play in 2018. The Autumn Budget made it very clear that housebuilding was a top priority for the Conservative Government, especially getting first-time-buyers on the ladder.

Sajid Javid also made no bones about his approach to Councils who are not pulling their weight, this is especially relevant for the 15 Councils at risk of Local Plan call-ins. They have until 31 January to get in their excuses before he makes a final decision.

You never know where this and other powers may lead, there may even be a Secretary of State for Housing around the corner.

Brexit

The elephant in every room I’ve walked into in the past year it seems. I can almost remember life before 23 June 2016, but I am increasingly unsure about what is around the corner. Uncertainty has become the key characteristic of Brexit, with misreporting, slow progress, and name-calling stirring up confusion. This uncertainty inevitably impacts on the economy, with private investment in housing being my key concern.

However, nothing is set in stone, so we may just have to wait and see what Brexit will bring.

Regions 

London is slowing down – not literally – but house price growth is slowing, especially in traditional prime spots in Zone 1. With investors and housebuilders (as well as BTR operators) looking to maximise returns, the regions are set for a major boost over the next 12 months.

We are already seeing Manchester and Birmingham begin to flex their worth, no doubt revitalised by their new Metro Mayors (and healthy Government investments). In 2018 I will be keeping my eye on the Midlands and the North West in particular, but that’s not to say that they are the only ones to watch.

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