Housing Shortage Continues to Drive UK Property Market Growth in 2017
Lack of housing in the UK remains the top driver of housing market growth in the UK
Property markets in regional cities like Manchester have surpassed London
UK student property remains resilient to Brexit, growth predicted to hit £45.8bn by Sept 2017
Brexit effects still muted, international investors have greater appetite for UK real estate
The year 2016 was an eventful one for the UK property market, influenced significantly by changes to the stamp duty and Brexit. While these events will continue to underpin market growth in 2017, the critical lack of housing remains the market’s main driver, supporting property prices. This article highlights the various issues that will dominate the UK property landscape in 2017.
Brexit Aftershock – A Final Window of Opportunity
The market calmed down fairly quickly following the results of the EU Referendum. Fears of an immediate house price crash after Brexit have abated with overseas investors particularly gaining a strong appetite for UK real estate, fuelled by the drop in the pound. As 2017 reopens with the spectre of Article 50, we foresee the same uncertainty surrounding the property market following Brexit in 2016, remaining in 2017. PM Theresa May received landslide votes in Parliament on Feb 8 to trigger Article 50, yet this will not change the fact that Brexit shall be a long-drawn affair.
Appetite for UK property stands to remain strong among overseas investors during this window of uncertainty when the sterling remains at its lowest levels since 1985. The Bank of America has advised its clients that it expects the sterling to suffer one last plunge — its lowest — when Article 50 is invoked (expected end March) and that this will be the best time to buy the sterling as the currency will strengthen after official Brexit negotiations get underway. The bank believes the sterling will recover in a V-shape rebound and that currency markets will no longer react to Brexit following this.
We have always believed that London and the UK are resilient and will remain an important global landmark; the market shall right itself around and the pound will rise again once the chaos calms and uncertainty reduces. We anticipate that investment volumes will recover next year, but until then, now is a good time to invest in UK property while the pound is at its weakest.
UK Student Property Remains Top Investment Asset
Just as it did during the economic downturn, UK student accommodation is proving resilient to concerns about Brexit. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reports that the number of students for 16/17 is set to exceed the previous year. While it may be that the weaker pound is more attractive to overseas students, it also proves the ongoing demand for UK higher education. JLL released research showing that at the start of the 2016/17 academic year, almost 522,000 students were enrolled on undergraduate courses at UK universities, an increase of more than 7,000 on 2015 while the number of acceptances of EU students rose by 8% y-o-y.
We strongly foresee that UK student accommodation is set to remain popular due to its recession-proof qualities, alongside supply still unable to keep up with demand across the UK. There will be growth in overseas investors due to the favourable exchange rate. Knight Frank predicts that UK’s purpose built student accommodation sector is set to reach a total value of £45.8bn by September 2017 while rental growth of 2.5% is expected. The sector has grown by 37% since 2014, from £30.9bn to £42.5bn, making it one of the fastest growing asset classes in the UK property market.
House Prices Continue to Increase
Figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for October 2016 showed that house prices across the UK grew 6.9% y-o-y. While this may be the lowest growth figures recorded since end 2015 (the market slowed mostly due to stamp duty and other tax changes), this is still strong growth nonetheless, driven by the general undersupply of housing across the UK. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) predicts that UK house price growth will slow down in 2017, but that the legacy of insufficient housing will see demand continue to outstrip supply, leading to a 3% rise over the year. The weaker pound will prove favourable to international investors.
Britain’s Crisis: Housing Remains Critically Undersupplied
Some 250,000 – 300,000 houses need to be built every single year to tackle soaring house prices and home shortage in England. The latest figures show that only 190,000 homes were added to England’s stock last year — the highest number since the financial crisis. With the current uncertain climate, there are fears that fewer homes will be built in 2017, with Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) suggesting that the number of housing starts (ie start building) could fall to 134,000 (from 147,880 in 2016).
Rents Continue Rising
Despite the change in stamp duty affecting landlords, there remains a significant community of renters in the UK, due to the critical undersupply of housing and prices at inaccessible levels. Commentators predict rent rises of 2%-3% across the UK; Savills has forecast a rise of 2.5% in 2017, while in London the increase will be at 3% as more people share homes to split the cost. In fact, Savills has predicted that rents would rise faster than house prices i.e. at 19% between now and 2021 while house prices only rise by 13%. Rics suggests that rents will rise by about 5% p.a. for the next five years because of strong demand and shortage of properties.
PwC’s research into housing affordability for generation rent shows that buyers may now have to save for 19 years in order to buy their first home (assuming deposit is raised entirely from their own savings without family assistance). In 2000, the same group would have been able to buy after saving for just 6 years, and in 1990 it took only around 2 years. PwC estimates a generation renter starting to save in 2016 can now buy in 2035. See our article: Britain, A Nation of Renters?
Manchester Knocks London Out in Price Growth
For the first time in 7 years, London is no longer within the top three growth regions in the UK as the effect of Brexit is more keenly felt in London. Regional cities like Manchester and Birmingham are in the spotlight due to better public realm improvements and more students choosing to stay and work in these cities. Manchester is leading the price growth among key cities in the UK, recording rises of 8.9% y-o-y as demand exceeds supply and unemployment falls. The outer boroughs of London are posting faster growth rates than the inner boroughs and this trend is looking to stay this year.
Rightmove’s most recent report, based on asking prices of properties for sale, shows a steady start to 2017’s housing market, with annual growth in the East and South-East regions of England significantly outpacing London and the South-West. Again, prices are being bolstered by a lack of housing, meaning that demand continues to outstrip supply.
There is strong potential in the UK real estate market as it is not as affected by Brexit as many think. UK student accommodation is a good investment asset as we see increased interest and investments into the sector, even from among our own clients. Key to strong returns is to buy in cities with good universities and accommodation undersupply. For residential property, we have always maintained that Manchester is the city to focus on while outer boroughs of London, particularly East London (especially areas with Crossrail accessibility) will bring better returns than inner London.
CSI Properties (Cornerstone International) proudly markets international investment property with high yields at low risk. Our portfolio comprises residential and purpose-built student property in cities across the United Kingdom (London, Luton, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Glasgow, Scotland; Sheffield, etc); Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane) and Thailand (Bangkok). Our projects are concentrated in high-growth areas with great educational, infrastructural and job growth potentials. We aspire to make a difference in the lives of our clients by helping them achieve their investment goals through strong market research backed by third party experts and due diligence.
Disclaimer: CSI Properties does not provide tax & legal advice and accepts no liability. Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified tax or legal advisor for a thorough review.
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