Optimism continues as market stabilises

Alan Knight, Head of Commercial at Walton and Hipkiss, Stourbridge.

Alan Knight, Head of Commercial at Walton and Hipkiss, Stourbridge.

First published in Property by

 AGAIN we see on a national stage headlines such as: “Activity stabilises and confidence turns less negative.”

And the most recent quarterly report of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said: “Both demand and available space stabilise in Q1, but rent expectations remain in negative territory. New development still falling, but at the slowest pace since 2007, little change in investment enquiries and capital values still expected to ease in the near term. The net balance readings for both occupier demand and available space broadly stabilised, resulting in slightly tighter market conditions compared to last quarter. As such, there was a small improvement in the rental outlook but rent expectations remain negative, although less so than in the previous quarter.”

We also see the same sentiments again from the Bank of England’s Agents summary of business conditions for July. But delving into the detail and looking at the local market a differing picture continues to emerge.

We as a practice are seeing better demand for industrial and some retail properties mainly driven by the “entrepreneur” and new start-ups. The appetite for commercial development still being very subdued although we have had a 50% increase in enquiries and a number of old development schemes are having the dust blown of and a firm reappraisal, although figures from the mid 00’s are unlikely to be repeated for some time.

In Stourport we are pushing ahead with planning applications on a number of new residential and waterside mixed use schemes and are seeing signs there of a much healthier level of demand across the whole sector.

Where you have a town with such outstanding assets such as the river and canal basins and residents who want to see real change it is not surprising activity is starting and the tourism and visitor industry about to enter its busiest phase of summer.

So let’s hope it's not just London and the South East getting major cash injections from the “Olympic” pound but we can all benefit now and in the future.

In Stourbridge work moves on a pace with the Tesco and town centre regeneration with the opening of the new junction onto the ring road, a first of a number of major milestones. We are seeing renewed activity in the High Street, again “entrepreneur” driven, and even some developers looking at opportunities arising from such a major investment.

As far as the housing market is concerned we are seeing a much better sales situation year on year with sales rates significantly increased form 12 months ago – we are not seeing any price inflation but a clearer pricing structure with Vendors continued to show a more realistic attitude towards price.

But supporting the level of activity, buy-to-let investment continued to grow, and foreign investors had branched out of commercial property especially in London and begun also to invest in the residential lettings market.

In the care sector we are also seeing renewed activity with developers looking at sites in and around the town centre of Stourbridge for significant developments of both nursing and assisted living. The retirement apartments market again is active with a number of major national players scouring our area for suitable opportunities in good well located and well served communities. This is in part driven by further reports of downsizing by older homeowners in order to release equity.

Walton and Hipkiss are currently advising a number of landowners and care sector developers in what look to be fruitful discussions, with the planning regime of the local authority being very supportive and a willingness to see this activity result in construction starting on site. So a good time to consider your land and property and maybe take a look from a different perspective.

So again a sign of summer but it is taking a very long time to get here!!

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