Industry Roundup – October 2019
In our October industry roundup, we examine the trends that are transforming the property sector and the residential market heading into November.
Media and tech companies drive demand in the European office market
According to Savills, the proportion of office space taken up by technology, media and telecoms companies across Europe now stands at 17%, a 2% year-on-year increase from this time in 2018.
Mike Barnes, Associate in Savills European Research Team, says: “The number of ICT companies is increasing in most cities we have analysed. It is clear that such trends are affecting the respective office markets and that landlords must keep pace with the changing business demands of the sector, such as the highest quality of internet connectivity and the provision of flexible office space, in order to stay profitable and ensure continued occupancy of their office spaces.”
During this time, prime rents have increased by 5.1% YoY since 2018 in Europe as historically low vacancy rates have met rising take-up figures.
UK Build-to-Rent sector grows by 20% year-on-year to 148,000 homes
Research by the British Property Federation (BPF) shows that across the UK, there are 148,000 Build-to-Rent homes either in planning, under construction or completed – a jump of 20% against the same period of time in 2018. This translates to an increase of 24,509 units over the last year, demonstrating the sector’s continued push as a major aspect of the housing market.
At the same time, the number of completed units has risen to 34,840, an increase of 31% during the same period. Looking at where the majority of this development has taken place, growth is split fairly evenly between London and regional cores. The regional cores have seen the largest rise in the number of completed developments YoY at 41% in the year to Q3 2019.
However, it’s important to note that aside from Build-to-Rent assets, residential undersupply is still a chronic issue throughout the UK market and regional cities are continuing to experience unprecedented demand.
London prices bottom out but uncertainty still reigns
For the first time in four years, London has seen the smallest quarterly adjustment according to Savills. Registering a slip of -0.3% in the three months to September, there’s a suggestion that pricing is now fully representative of the current market.
Values now sit, on average, -13% below the pre-2016 levels and -20% below the market peak over five years ago. For an international buyer comparing against the US Dollar, it translates to a price adjustment of around 42%, increasingly making London property look like a good investment.
Uncertainty still remains one of the biggest factors impacting the market, Savills believe. 68% of the firm’s London agents name Brexit as the biggest constraint, while 23% believe the lack of stock is affecting sellers. Despite a growing pool of domestic and international money, it’s expected that buyer caution will primarily remain as EU negotiations continue.
Rental rates increasing as home ownership declines
Research by Swinton Insurance has shown that 22 of the world’s 36 developed countries have seen a decrease in the number of homeowners over the past decade. The UK and Ireland have experienced the steepest decreases with an 11% drop in home ownership over the last decade – hitting 65% from the 76% registered in 2008.
At the same time, rental rates across Europe have increased, spurred on by better salary-to-rent ratios.
Angela Bowden, home insurance specialist at Swinton Home Insurance, said: “It’s interesting to see that home ownership rates have dropped in developed countries globally. Our research shows that there are other factors at play other than just affordability – using the example of Switzerland, where salaries are so high, but the home ownership rate is very low – indicating that the cost of living and even personal preferences can dictate whether people become homeowners or not.”
As we head towards the end of 2019, many initial predictions made at the start of the year look like they may come true. From decreasing homeownership to the rise of Generation Rent and Brexit uncertainty, the UK market is becoming more viable for Buy-to-Let investors, especially from overseas, to take advantage of a ‘discount’ and harness the demand occurring up and down the country.
Heading into November, it’ll be interesting to see if it really is a light at the end of the tunnel for London, as prices level out and the potential for a bounceback comes a step closer.