This is what the experts think (and hope) will happen in the housing market in 2021

Experts reveal their property predictions and thoughts on the future of the housing market. Sharon Dale reports.

The property market will move into recovery mode in the next 6-12 months, experts predict.
The property market will move into recovery mode in the next 6-12 months, experts predict.

Property Post has gathered together a wealth of talent from various sectors to give us their property predictions, along with a wish list and suggestions on how the industry can best progress.

We also salute them and their companies for the vital help they gave to Variety, the children’s charity in Yorkshire, during the pandemic last year.

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All were sponsors of The Yorkshire Residential Property Awards, a Variety fundraising event that was unable to take place in October 2020.

They kindly agreed to donate the money they would have spent on sponsorship direct to the charity to help it continue its work supporting children and young people in Yorkshire who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged.

The following businesses donated the money they would have spent on a table at the cancelled event: Strata, Allsop, Beal Homes, Carter Jonas, Rex Procter and Partners, Redrow Homes, Lithos Consulting, Urban Splash, Knights Plc, Brewster Bye Architects, West Court Group, Moda Living, Ward Hadaway, Spawforths.

The Yorkshire Residential Property Awards 2021 will take place on October 14 at New Dock Hall, Leeds. Confirmed sponsors include Womble Bond Dickinson, Walker Morris, DS Emotion, The Yorkshire Post, Hampshire Trust Bank, Manning Stainton, Edward Architecture, Pegasus Group and SCP.

Richard Cook, group director for development at Clarion Housing Group:

“I think we will see some instability within the property market for the next 6-12 months as we move into recovery mode and the stimulus measures put in place to shore up the economy start to wind down.

“We have just been through what has probably been the most challenging 12 months of our lives in terms of the nation’s collective health, well-being and economy, so it will take some time for the market to settle.

“At Clarion we take a long-term view and, in order to build homes and communities for the future, we need a policy environment that provides as much stability as possible.

“The two big issues perpetuated by Covid are also front of mind for our sector. The first is inequality and how the last 12 months has either hit people in the pocket or impacted their health.

“The second is climate change – an already pressing issue which demands our full attention as an industry.

“To play our part we will be focusing a great deal of our efforts on Yorkshire and the North, delivering visionary, sustainable developments such as the circa 1,500 homes at our Kirkstall Road scheme in Leeds and a further 279 at The Cocoa Works in York.

“Around 290 homes will also be delivered at Cocoa West, on land adjacent to The Cocoa Works, of which 63 per cent will be family homes and 19 per cent will be shared ownership.”

David Young, director, SCP Transport and Infrastructure consultants:

“In transport and housing, we at SCP are seeing a trend where Government guidance has become less specific with the corresponding ambiguity being addressed locally.

“With the national review of ‘Manual for Streets’ we might expect this to follow a similar path to that noticed in the replacement of planning policy guidance notes with the National Planning Policy Framework and the withdrawal of Institution of Highways and Transportation assessment document.

“Many local authorities have filled this gap by producing their own guidance. However, SCP has noted that standards can differ significantly from one authority to the next. Some national guidance is always helpful to overcome local standards that may just be too far beyond the norm.

“Local guidance can also be slow to get updated to take account of changing agendas – decarbonisation for example.

“Another challenge is the application of Community Infrastructure Levy payments, which in theory are a cover-all development tax.

“This includes highway and transport improvements but often developers are asked to pay the levy on top of specific highway and transport contributions. New housing is a societal need, not a cash cow.

“SCP’s transport planners predict that Covid-19 will historically change commuting travel patterns. Some recognition of this will need to be quickly adopted into planning and transport guidance.

“Homes of the present and the future need to plan for electric vehicle charging, including visitors, electric bikes and potentially even scooters. Layouts might be expected to include more trees too.”

Steve Nixon, partner in the real estate team at law firm Walker Morris:

“I am expecting to see the resilience that the UK property market has shown over the last few years to continue.

“There is bound to be some slowing in house price growth in the next 12 months as the SDLT holiday comes to an end and the new Help to Buy regime takes effect. But I think 2022 will see growth rates strengthening.

“Despite what some of the chiefs in the financial sector have been saying about a five-days-a-week return to the office, I think we are going to see a much wider acceptance of home working, with people choosing locations based on factors other than convenience for getting to work.

“This will see people wanting to live further out in villages and more rural locations, which should mean more residential development in those areas, if the planning regime will permit it.

“That said, there will still be plenty of people who want city- centre living and I am expecting to see a re-imagining of how city- centre space is used in 2021/22.

“The proliferation of void spaces in former retail outlets should give plenty of scope for conversion to residential and leisure use, making full use of permitted development rights to reinvigorate our city centres.

“If I could change one thing it would be the planning approval system, to give more decision-making power to experienced planning officers and less to committees of elected members, in the hope that it will make planning permission more predictable and efficient to obtain.”

Lee Wilkinson, external audit director, PwC:

“Projecting house prices is challenging during normal times but with the level of uncertainty currently present in the economy, it is even more complicated.

“While there are certainly factors that will support house prices in the coming months, there are also large risks to the economic outlook created by Covid-19.

“The support of the stamp duty holiday has allowed home owners to save significantly and this, along with lower interest rates and the Help to Buy equity scheme, has made housing more accessible.

“The lasting impact of Covid-19 is yet to be seen or felt on UK housing. However, there is an inter-linkage to the economy.

“The recent Budget announcements of extending the stamp duty holiday and the new mortgage-guarantee scheme will be welcome by some but the outcome of higher house prices will further widen inequalities around the affordability of homes.

“The initiatives the Government has introduced seem more drawn to home buyers than Generation Rent. The latter favour a lifestyle that involves build-to-rent and this will continue to grow due to continued challenges around buyer affordability.

“With targets being set for Net Zero by 2050 we must reflect that a significant proportion of that housing stock is already built and therefore initiatives to retrofit for a low-carbon future was a missed opportunity in the Budget.”

Julia Field, partner at Womble, Bond Dickinson UK, LLP:

“Over the last 12 months we have been told with alarming frequency that we are living in unprecedented times.

“Certainly, very few people could have predicted the enormous upheaval to almost every aspect of the way we work and live. With this in mind, forecasting the future of residential property development over the next few years seems something of a herculean task.

“Nevertheless, there have been some indications of likely drivers to development over the short to medium term. Lockdown and social-distancing restrictions slowed the pace of construction last year.

“However, the strength of demand for new homes was high. As a result, we anticipate the pace of development will accelerate – both for greenfield and brownfield sites – as derelict industrial areas are increasingly repurposed for residential or mixed-use schemes.

“Design of housing developments will continue to evolve, with quality of life being a key priority for most buyers. Public realm will become increasingly important – leading to an increase in green space, access to nature, public art and outdoor community spaces.

“Modern Methods of Construction will continue to expand and the government is set to establish an MMC Taskforce to accelerate the delivery. MMC can go some way to addressing supply-chain issues and shortage of skilled labour and this, coupled with the carbon savings that it can create, suggests that it will feature more heavily in the future.

“MMC will increase the range and types of homes available in the market. However, delivery at scale remains a significant hurdle and the role of volume housebuilders will remain vital to addressing the UK housing shortage.

“Over the next few years I would like to see the delivery of high-quality housing with a focus on design, well-being and community connectivity. I believe this is something within our grasp if national planning policy, local authorities and developers work collaboratively to embrace the changing needs and demands of buyers.”

Graham Edward, managing director, Edward Architecture:

“We specialise in the residential market. Our client base includes housing associations, national house builders and the private rented sector.

“At the moment the UK has attractive low interest rates for mortgages and there is a good demand for housing. There are also great Government schemes in place that encourage home ownership.

“While the Covid crisis hasn’t helped some, many people haven’t been spending so cash is available and the market remains strong.

“I am a firm believer that Brexit will only help the economy in the medium to long term. The big questions are when will tax increases come in to repay the nation’s Covid debt and when will interest rates rise? I foresee these being very gradual over the next five years so my prediction is that the housing market may ease but not slow down completely.

“My practice has noticed two market changes that affect our design in the last year – the increase in modular construction methods which has quality and programme benefits and a shift in user requirements to suit working from home, such as a home office, bigger garden and easy access to leisure and outdoor activities.

“The top of my wish list is to see more beautiful communal places in residential schemes that create a sense of well-being, belonging and community which are key ingredients to the long-term success of a place to live.

“Our affordable housing scheme for Your Housing in Openshaw, which has 216 units, is a great example of this drive towards a sense of place.”

Mark Manning, managing director, Manning Stainton estate agents

“An Englishman’s home is his castle is a phrase and a feeling ingrained in the mindset of our country. It is a feeling that has shown no signs, even throughout the darkest days of a pandemic, of abating. In fact, the onset of Covid and the vast stimulus that has been intravenously fed into the arm of the British economy has only served to strengthen the resolve that bricks and mortar is the place to be.

“At present we are seeing vast swathes of new buyers enter the market, from aspiring first-time buyers looking to make that proud step on to the ladder, second and third steppers demanding more from their home and investors from home and overseas looking to find a haven for their savings.

“This trend, with the introduction of initiatives such as the Government-backed mortgage scheme, will only serve to drive this demand further.

“Fundamentally though, things need to change. We simply do not have the supply of housing to meet the demand that exists now and will exist in the years ahead.

“The planning process is slow and lethargic, developers can sit on vast land banks with little to incentivise them to get on and build much-needed new homes and funding for medium and smaller developers remains hard to acquire.

“I believe the policymakers must act very soon if we are to avoid the inevitable correction that will always come as house prices continue to be driven higher and higher over the coming years.”

Kate Curtis, chartered landscape architect and director in the environment team at Pegasus Group, Leeds:

“Top of my wish list for improving our built environments is the introduction of more trees to our streets to re-green our towns.

“Carefully integrated street trees bring benefits to our environments for people and wildlife. Trees can soften built form, provide individual character, improve air quality, provide shade and shelter and contribute to biodiversity.

“The successful provision of trees in streets is not always easy. Consideration has to be given to the selection of the correct tree species. The tree has to be given the correct conditions to thrive. There are conflicting elements to successful street tree provision which must be considered at the beginning of the design process.

“The above-ground pressures include the successful integration of roads (eg space for large vehicles such as bin lorries) and pavements (eg avoiding damage to surfaces by roots and the unimpeded movement of pedestrians and cyclists).

“Below ground, there is a lot of competition for space, including the pipes, wires and drains associated with all the utilities we require. Trees need access to air and water as well as the correct soil volumes to thrive. Therefore early coordination with all these potentially conflicting elements is essential for success.

“In short, carefully planned trees are good for us and our environments and I welcome the forthcoming plans – and challenges as a designer – to introduce many more to our existing and future spaces.”

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Thank you

James Mitchinson