What should the property sector focus on in 2019?

In 2018, the property sector has witnessed many interesting changes. From the emergence of technological advancements, such as blockchain, to the growth of Northern markets versus the South, this year’s been one to watch.

With 2019 upon us, it’s time to evaluate what will dominate the sector over the next 12 months. This year will see innovative ways of solving the housing crisis, new ways of working and living, and more technology coming to the fore. Here is our list of what we believe should be the key focuses in 2019.

The demand for social housing prevails

It was reported in November 2018 that councils across the UK sold more than 20,000 social homes via the right to buy scheme in the last financial year – more than double the annual figures of 2011/12 when discounts were boosted. Currently, there are more than one million people on the waiting list for social homes, so clearly housebuilding levels are not high enough to replace those being sold.

Building new properties is an expensive, time-consuming task and the government does not allocate enough budget to rectify the lack of social housing stock using this method. Indeed, Theresa May’s pledge of an additional £2bn per year for social housing  does not come close to meeting demand.

Therefore, the government, local authorities and private property developers should work collaboratively and strategically to find new ways to increase housebuilding levels. Focusing on the renovation of existing buildings would be a great start; these schemes are cheaper and can be brought to fruition much quicker.

Houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) can also be a great alternative, offering an affordable option to those unable to pay private renting prices. Focusing on delivering high quality HMOs that people are proud of is an intelligent way to help solve the lack of social housing available.

Going digital…

As we have mentioned previously, there has been a huge shift in the use of technology in the real estate sector over the last 12 months. Currently, buying and selling property is a lengthy process and requires unnecessary intermediaries. However, digital advancements have the ability to change this.

Blockchain technology has been instrumental in quickening the property buying and selling process, allowing purchases to be completed at the click of a button. We were the first company to record a residential sale using the blockchain and it’s since been heralded as the future of property and finance. Attracting investment outside of Europe has never been more vital for Britain with Brexit looming, and enabling entire property transactions to be completed digitally could boost international deals.

In 2019, technology could be further utilised to ensure that the UK property market appeals to investors overseas. Greater use of upcoming innovative solutions, such as drones or virtual reality, can ensure the process is made more transparent and even reduce the need for international buyers to travel to the UK to view properties in person.

Social spaces

There has been an obvious shift in the way that people work and live in recent months, which will continue in 2019. More co-working offices are needed to support the growing numbers of freelancers, self-employed and SME businesses. These spaces should be creative hubs; affordable, high quality offices equipped with top of the range equipment and meeting rooms to facilitate networking opportunities. With greater demand encouraging more competition, expect the quality of these sought-after offices to rise, especially in strategic cities such as Manchester, Leeds and London, where the demand is already high.

In addition to co-working, the demand for co-living apartments is also set to increase. Millennials want to live socially, particularly when moving to new cities and trying to combat loneliness.

In 2019, these schemes must reflect the high standard of living that people have come to expect across city centres. There is huge demand for in-house amenities including gyms, bars and other social areas. With over two million people going to university every year, many want to hold onto this sociable style of living so expect property developers to up their game with buy to let and private rented sector schemes.

What next?

Without question, 2019 is going to be a time of uncertainty for the UK property market as the country adjusts to Brexit changes. In this uneasy time, strategic planning and investment into digital platforms, social housing and co-living schemes will be key to ensuring that the property market remains prosperous.

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