Market Overview

David Norman of Davon – We’re excited to share with you the first of our collaborative market overviews, where Davon has invited colleagues across the industry to share their views on the state of the market and its impact on residential developers. The past two years have presented unique challenges for the sector but despite all the media attention, has it really changed the property residential landscape beyond all recognition or is it just a matter of knowing what to look out for and adjusting expectations and plans accordingly? The impact of WFH on residential design, soaring building materials and the possible demise of City living have impacted developers all within a short time frame. All of these, need careful consideration when looking to future development to ensure success in terms of product and in turn, profitability. Read on to find out what our experts have to say on what home owners will demand of residential developers in 2022.

Daniel Radford, Mark David Estate Agents – Two things have stood out for me as being more in demand following the pandemic; space to work from home and a generous garden. With transport and communication links now better than ever, the need to work from an office has diminished and more buyers are being drawn by the allure of the countryside. With a suitable office space and a garden for a family, rural and village properties have never been more in demand. It remains to be seen if, once life jerks back to some form of normality, ex city dwellers choose to return to the bright lights or the peace and tranquillity of country living maintains their attention. My own view is that most will choose to split their time equally between the two, retaining a country retreat whilst spending time in the bars and restaurants that only city living can offer. The future may even lie in small, lodge style country homes for part time occupation, and a smart pied a terre on the city outskirts. Only time will tell!

Nick Marquez, director of Bocking Homes – The pandemic has brought about many changes to the way we live our lives and that has certainly been reflected in the housing market. We saw a huge increase in demand for properties outside of the cities, with one of the most sought-after features being a garden or outdoor space. Whilst we expect this to be the case for the next year or so, already we can see people slipping back into the old habits of their pre-pandemic existence. The big cities may be looking a little quiet at present but as the younger generations come through seeking out that ‘big smoke’ lifestyle that they have dreamed of since they were a teenager, we expect to see activity in the cities rising sharply, which will drive the demand for property there once again. Many people will have discovered a better quality of life since they moved to the countryside, working from home and spending time with family, but we don’t expect this to have an impact on the younger generations for whom this pandemic will soon be a distant memory. For them, the draw of bars and restaurants reopening will simply be too much to resist!

Ben Babington, director of Trilogy – The two features that are on the top of buyers wish lists perfectly capture the desires of the working population to achieve an optimal work-life balance. Firstly, with an element of working from home looking like it is here to stay, a formal study or dedicated area for work is becoming essential for many homebuyers. Some of our current buyers are going so far as to request re-designs of their off-plan purchases to optimize their ‘WFH’ areas, with upgrades including hardwired cabling for fast internet connection, tweaked layouts to accommodate their dream desk and even detailed designs for interesting Zoom backdrops to make them the envy of their colleagues and clients. Consideration then moves to leisure time, where demand is at an all-time high for some form of private outside space be it a balcony, terrace or garden. Whether it is for an indulgent post work glass of wine or the fear of being couped up during another enforced lockdown, properties with outside space are being snapped up before those that are without.

Daniel Joyce, Close Brothers – Reflecting on the residential property market’s performance in 2021, we have seen increased growth in terms of demand, transactions and price, despite obvious significant challenges and looking forward to 2022, we’re confident of another strong year ahead. Housebuilding has proven robust, and although the stamp duty ‘holiday’ has helped mitigate the effects of the pandemic, only 8% of housebuilders cite its subsequent withdrawal as a barrier to future housing delivery – as per our 2021 survey of the SME housebuilding market, in conjunction with the HBF and Travis Perkins. While concerns remain over the cost and supply of materials for 78% of respondents, all evidence suggests an immediate overhaul of the convoluted planning process would help to increase the supply of new homes and bolster the market. Removing red tape and the eventual easing of the current supply chain challenges, could also help to offset any potential rise in the UK base rate.

Paul Rees, Obsidian Developments/Areilza – The property market has endured a turbulent 2 years; the Covid pandemic has triggered a reappraisal of urban living, with vast numbers shifting away from city-based living and confines in search of the green and open spaces of the suburbs and the countryside. The pandemic has bought into sharp focus the faults of people’s living arrangements, lack of gardens, distance from friends and community, with many wanting more space as they work from home. People want to be able to breath; to enjoy the natural world. The excitement of the bright lights will always remain, but many now see the city as a short stay destination; a chance to dip in and dip out. Unfettered from offices, city inhabitants have taken the opportunity to gravitate away from metropolises, some to avoid the virus which evolves and remains amongst us, and others to be close to where they grew up, to be nearer to family. We believe developers should focus attention on the countryside. The trend towards remote work continues, the fear of persistent lock downs and infringements on freedoms only strengthens the desire for rural living.