Another year has passed and the real estate industry is again preparing to converge on Cannes, France for the annual MIPIM conference (Le marché international des professionnels de l'immobilier) and what a year it has been!
At a meeting at MIPIM 2015 I was party to a discussion which included the question 'What are the biggest risks to UK real estate?'. There were the usual answers (all valid) of interest and gilt rates, build costs and commodity prices but someone also threw out 'political stability in the rest of the world', which seemed to get a considerable amount of head nodding.
What wasn't considered worthy of debate at the time was political uncertainty at home or in our special friend the USA which just emphasises the difficulties in making predictions with any confidence.
Notwithstanding political uncertainty UK plc currently remains one of the most attractive economies in the world to do business and to invest in. There has been talk of a flight of capital from the USA on a risk balancing basis but we haven't yet seen much evidence of this.
Foreign investors are now looking for value outside central London as they become more familiar with the real estate industry in the UK. PRS, in all its forms, is gaining traction as an accepted institutional asset class and the banks are back in the development finance market. The weight of money and low interest rates combine to push banks and institutions up the risk curve as they look for returns and opportunities to match their medium and long term liabilities and requirements.
The traditional foreign exhibition residential investment market has certainly cooled due to a combination of increased dealing costs - the higher rates of SDLT in the £1m+ market and the 3% surcharge on second properties and also concerns over central London pricing but sales directly into mainland China are a new phenomenon.