Again we have been contributing to the Bank of England’s regional forecasting to the central committee and from the most recent monthly report for November concludes against the backdrop of slower global activity, UK domestic demand growth has so far remained robust, supported by easier credit conditions and past rises in confidence.

Consumer spending growth strengthened in the first half of 2014 H1, despite weak wage growth. Surveys suggest a continuation of strong business investment in the near term. Although housing investment rose markedly in Quarter 2, housing market activity has moderated further. Mortgage approvals were broadly flat in Q3, weaker than expected in August, and house price inflation has also slowed.

This may in part reflect some restriction in the availability of mortgage credit, but an easing in demand for housing finance may also have been a factor. The near-term outlook or housing market activity is softer than in August mainly focussing around London and the south east where the heat has been taken from the market.

In our area we are still seeing brisk activity, at the recently released Royal Glassworks development by J G Woodcock in Brierley Hill where we have been marketing strongly twenty seven 1,2 & 3 bedroom apartments and houses, at the time of writing, we have 16 confirmed and qualified reservations with very strong interest in the remaining units. This shows a dramatic level of demand despite the scheme completion in the Spring of next year, this level of activity is being repeated elsewhere in new build and has resulted again in a resurgence in demand for land and refurbishment opportunities from Developers.

During our marketing and in the national backdrop of enhanced social media and property websites the launch next year of a major competitor to Rightmove and Zoopla for commercial and residential property sales and lettings, has been announced and will go live on 26 January 2015, owned and supported by members’ Agents across the UK, including ourselves, this will be one of the most powerful ways of reaching the most relevant audiences. As part of this transformation in the marketing of commercial and residential property we have been closely monitoring this and over the last two years Walton and Hipkiss have developed a new innovative website the likes of which have never been seen before! Although our current website is very well received, the market must recognise the need to continually move with the new technology being developed, our new site will be going live this week.

On the commercial property front we are seeing a lot of activity in the offices sector with both new and expanding companies taking space especially where flexible lease terms and car parking availability is good. Town Centre locations are less favorable. At present out of some 38 offices and workshop units at Hagley Hall Mews and The Old Woodyard Hagley we only have 3 units currently available with future interest looking very encouraging.

In the industrial sector we are seeing the improved credit facilities and manufacturing improvement creating a steady demand for good quality space with added pressure on developers and landlords to start to invest in speculative new development.

In Stourbridge itself we are seeing the preparations for Christmas well advanced and the new development of King Edwards College and new Premier Inn being revealed with scaffolding now coming down and at last pristine new buildings the town should be proud of.

The impact of the changes to Permitted Development Rights to allow offices to be converted to residential is only now starting to have an effect on the commercial property market, and in a number of situations are under very active discussion in a number of buildings within the town Centre, in particular The Old Library where conversion would create some very attractive and unique residential homes – so watch this space the conversion of the former Royal Glassworks in Brierley Hill is only the start.

So in reviewing the year as this will be the last editorial before Christmas, an ever improving year ending much better than it started with strong signs of a good foundation for an even better 2015 – a Happy Christmas and prosperous 2015 to us all.

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