Well the weather is getting warmer, the sun is out at the moment and the daffodils are out and again the sentiment in the commercial and residential property market continues to improve. We are seeing in both commercial property and house sales a number of buyers after single properties where we are now going to final and best bids with asking prices being achieved in more but isolated instances. As a cautionary note one must be aware of not over pricing as this will slow the market sales periods down – but if priced sensibly with a good level of interest bidding can improve the end result.
Credit availability has continued to increase gradually and demand has edged higher. The recovery in housing market activity has continued at a steady pace, fuelled by improved mortgage availability for first-time buyers and growing household confidence. Transactions were substantially higher than a year ago, albeit still below pre- recession levels.
Colleagues in the profession report instructions to sell had risen, but there had remained a shortage of properties for sale on the secondary market. That had, so far, mainly affected activity levels rather than prices. House price inflation had continued to vary across the United Kingdom, with double-digit percentage rises in London contrasting with more modest growth in most other regions.
The Bank of England’s March summary on business conditions reports investment intentions had continued to point to moderate growth in capital expenditure in the year ahead. Manufacturers’ intentions had picked up a little, with an increasing number of contacts looking to invest in new capacity, in addition to on-going spending to improve efficiency or productivity. Some firms, though, were cautious about making substantial expenditures until they were more certain that the recovery in demand would be sustained.
Investment in commercial property was picking up, including outside London, although much of the focus was on enhancement of existing stock rather than on new building projects. In retail, that reflected an overhang of existing space, whereas in office and industrial markets, rental levels and lease terms were often said not yet to have recovered sufficiently to make new building viable.
In Lower Street Stourbridge we are selling a freehold restaurant adjacent to the College and after some 15 viewings we have received a handful of offers and now go to a final and best bid situation – not something which would have happened 12 months ago.
We are seeing an increase in demand across the commercial sector – freehold preferred, but we are now seeing resurgence on offices and retail, the industrial and manufacturing business being busier since the start of the year.
Manufacturers based in our area forecast output and order to reach their highest level for 16 years as the UK economic recovery continues to take root in the region, according to the latest quarterly Manufacturing Outlook survey published today by EEF, the manufacturers’ organization. We are now looking for Councils and Developers to respond to the level of demand especially in the commercial and industrial sector especially with the availability of freehold property, where companies and individuals can use pension provisions and SIPS to invest ahead of more major capital value increases in the sector.
As regulated Chartered Surveyors and Valuers and with our RICS colleagues in the Spring statements are seeing a real resurgence of demand and supply of housing stock with the sale process now shortening in time with properties correctly priced and marketed selling quicker. Activity in the West Midlands Region continues to gain momentum; the biggest increases have been seen across many parts of the country where sales numbers jumped some 50 percent on last year.
As I sit at my desk typing this editorial the Chancellor is delivering his 2014 Budget – lets us hope this time next month we still have a smile on our face and the grass is getting greener. We are in a fragile recovery and with the housing market improving the commercial property will follow therefore he does need to be so careful with the Bank of England to not shake our resolve or growing confidence.