What’s on the Horizon for the Real Estate Market in 2021?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet abated, and lockdown measures remain fluid. However, there are several reasons to be optimistic for real estate in the new year.

Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment, offers his thoughts on the trends that will influence the UK real estate market in the year to come.

With the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine starting to be administered to UK citizens, it’s safe to say that the end of COVID-19 could be in sight. After almost one full year of lockdowns, social distancing measures and job retention schemes; we may be soon returning to something resembling normality.

However, our transition to the “new normal” will be notably different to the pre-COVID-19 environment. Tax reforms and spending cuts are looking likely, as the UK government scrambles to make up the shortfall for what it spent combating COVID-19’s economic impact.

The UK has been long been heralded as one of the world’s leading investment destinations. There is good reason to believe this will remain the case, despite the obstacles on the horizon. A recent piece of research commissioned by FJP investment revealed that 42% of investors are confident the UK shall remain a global investment hub following COVID-19 and Brexit.

So, given all of this, which assets have investors been retreating to amongst all of this uncertainty? Based on what we have been witnessing at the moment, there is no denying that residential property remains high on the list for sophisticated investors.

Spotlight on property

Amidst all the market volatility and global uncertainty witnessed throughout 2020, British real estate has demonstrated strength, resilience, and perseverance.

In fact, market demand for property has been rising at an impressive rate. If we use house price growth as measure of buyer demand, this is evident. Halifax’s House Price Index for November revealed that house prices have risen annually by 7.6%.

Amidst all the market volatility and global uncertainty witnessed throughout 2020, British real estate has demonstrated strength, resilience, and perseverance.

Understandably, it looks as those some buyers are investing in UK property to hedge against any financial uncertainty. While other asset classes are suffering from high volatility as financial markets adjust to new COVID-19 developments, the price of UK property has consistently trended upwards throughout H2 2020.

This is a reflection of the positive sentiment investors hold towards bricks and mortar. FJP Investment’s aforementioned research also found that a majority (51%) firmly believe UK real estate will remain a sound investment regardless of how Brexit and COVID-19 play out. And, as the year comes to a close, I believe that this optimism will soon translate into record levels of transactions. Already transaction numbers are high, with October 2020 witnessing approximately 8.1% more transactions than October 2019. What’s more, with the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday coming to an end on 31 March 2021, we are likely to see transactions numbers spike further.

The SDLT holiday, implemented in June and potentially saving house buyers up to £15,000, has been credited with successfully luring investment back into British real estate after the first summer lockdown earlier this year. Given the considerable savings this tax break allows for, I suspect that investors will flock to property in the new year before the holiday ends.

Constructing new builds to meet demand

With regards to infrastructure and potential new builds, it’s up to the government as to whether they wish to push forward with their plans from earlier this year for a housebuilding revolution. The UK is still suffering from a mis-matched housing sector, with demand far outstripping supply, so fulfilling the promises made during the 2019 General Election to ‘level up’ the nation via pouring billions into new builds should be welcomed by investors and seasoned property experts alike.

Allocating such funds for infrastructure and housebuilding not only fulfils electoral pledges but is paramount for facilitating a wider post-COVID-19 economic recovery. For this reason and others, I’m confident that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will push forward with previous plans to help fund construction and development projects in 2021.

Regarding other plans, such as extending the SDLT holiday or implementing negative interest rates, it is difficult to make assured predictions at the moment. However, for property investors and housing developers, I’m personally optimistic about what 2021 may hold. Given the incredibly strong performance of UK property throughout this year’s pandemic, I’m confident that this sector will remain a prime destination for investment and a source of impressive long-term gains for the foreseeable future.

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