The arrival of the New Year brings with it a plethora of predictions of what the coming 12 months have in store. The property industry is certainly no exception; homeowners, investors, landlords, renters and prospective buyers alike are all keenly watching to see how the market will perform in the year ahead. But this task is becoming more and more difficult.
After all, the past 18 months have been far from straightforward for the real estate sector – indeed, the vast majority of industries would fail to be affected by the political and economic disruption caused by Brexit and a General Election, not to mention changing interest rates and two Budgets from the Chancellor.
What the property industry requires is a period of stability. It needs negotiations with the EU to progress smoothly and for the Government’s property agenda to remain consistent. Of course, whether it gets either of these things remains to be seen, with some experts predicting a broadly flat performance from the housing market in 2018.
However, there remain reasons for greater optimism than this. Firstly, it appears unlikely that the country will see another election this year, while Brexit talks will inevitably progress over the coming months; not only will this make the coming year less turbulent than the one we have just waved goodbye to, but it will also provide greater clarity over what a post-Brexit Britain is going to look like.
Furthermore, the Government has implemented some positive policy reforms that ought to provide a boost to the housing market. Namely, the decision to remove stamp duty for first-time buyers, coupled with renewed efforts to increase the country’s housing supply, will likely spur greater activity in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, new figures released by Zoopla show that the average British home added £28 to its value each day in 2017 – in total, the residential property market is now valued at £8.29 trillion, which is a 3.5% year-on-year rise. Given the challenging climate since 2016, these figures must be considered impressive. At the same time, the likes of JLL, Savills and Halifax are all forecasting stable growth in house prices in 2018 before accelerated growth in the years that follow.
So, as we welcome the New Year, there is no need for doom and gloom. Challenges both seen and unforeseen undoubtedly lie ahead, but the property market has already demonstrated its strength and resilience. What’s more, with first-time buyers likely to take advantage of the steady marketplace and removal of stamp duty fees, a ripple effect could see greater movement across the different rungs of the property ladder.
Shifting the focus away from the perspective of buyers and sellers, 2018 will also be an interesting time for the property finance space. Specifically, mortgage lenders are finding themselves increasingly challenged by alternate lenders, fintech firms and proptech solutions. The rising contenders, including bridging loan providers, are disrupting the traditional structures and processes that have hitherto controlled the property market.
More than ever, consumers and investors are becoming aware of the fact that they are no longer restricted by having to go to a high street bank to access the finance they need to buy a property. In the same way that online estate agents are implementing new systems and fee structures to sell a house, alternative lenders are using new models for offering capital to individuals or groups looking to take advantage of opportunities available on the property market.
In 2018, while the market as a whole looks set to stabilise and grow steadily, the wider property industry is likely to undergo broader reform. The machines that have previously dictated the way real estate transactions are financed and completed are losing their power over the sector – in the coming 12 months expect alternative lenders and innovative proptech companies to become increasingly prominent, providing viable options for people looking to get ahead with bricks and mortar.
Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions