The Property Industry Roundtable – 15 May 2020

May 21, 2020

Discussing life after lockdown, loan to value and the changing face of our high streets

Steph Richards of our Real Estate team hosted another session in our popular series of Property Industry Roundtable discussions on Friday, 15th May. Below Steph shares the insights from members of the property industry who attended the roundtable.

Life after lockdown

In a week which saw the first steps to easing the UK lockdown, the panel discussed the butterfly-effect of the last 2 months. Many revised forecasts have been published this week, from property market figures showing anywhere between a 5-7% impact on property prices, to more adverse predictions in relation to the economy. Most of the panel were of the opinion that these initial forecasts reflect what they had expected, but that it will be a matter for ongoing review as the eventual impacts work their way through both the supply chain and the property market more generally.

Loan to value

With the panel having a focus on property funding, talk turned to how valuations will be impacted by the coronavirus. As with the recent “Brexit clause” that has appeared in many valuations, the industry Is starting to see similar commentary with regard to coronavirus, particularly in relation to the use of pre-Covid comparables. This being a point that will only become clear in time, it follows that the “value” element of lenders’ loan to value calculations is in flux. Developers are anticipating some supply chain issues, potentially pushing up the cost of development works, and as a result this will impact on their funding arrangements. The finance sector’s anticipated responses may include review of timetables, including (where appropriate) day-for-day extensions to development facilities to reflect the delays in work suffered as a result of Covid-19. However, such steps will need to be accompanied by an all-encompassing review of the development. For instance, if there is a pre-let unit within a development, it is likely that the funder will require assurance from that tenant that they will occupy the unit on completion. It is likely that we will see an increase in conversations between lenders and developers to establish what they each anticipate in the coming months, including provision within budgets for higher development costs.

A shift in regional focus

Looking further ahead to the post-Covid impact on the property market, the discussion turned to the potential to see a regional shift if the trend for home working continues. One side-effect of the pandemic could be a focus on lifestyle-led locations taking precedence over more commutable locations with close proximity to urban hubs. Only time will tell if the shift to home-based working will have such an impact.

The changing face of our high streets

Another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be an acceleration of pre-existing trends (for example working from home and remote conferencing), and this follows through to wider subjects such as town planning. As has been widely reported, the make-up of our high street is changing from a retail focus to a wider, more experiential offering. During the roundtable conversation thoughts moved towards some second-guessing of future changes to the high street. The panel anticipate that following the shift to online shopping during the lockdown, it can be expected that the acceleration of change in the high street will continue, perhaps with an increase in smaller, more locally focussed schemes.

Consideration was also given to the likelihood of a re-design of residential spaces to incorporate designated areas for home-based work to reflect the needs of homeowners following the exponential increase in home working in recent months.

Overall there was a strong feeling that the property industry will be impacted by the after effects of Covid-19 for some time to come, perhaps with important shifts in the expectation upon new developments to provide not only quality living space, but a flexible approach to working and a shift in emphasis in relation to amenities.

The next Property Industry Roundtable

We will be running a number of future property roundtable discussions on specific topics affecting the industry, from property development, to enfranchisement and secured lending. If you are interested in participating in future sessions, or if there is a subject that you would be interested in discussing, please contact Steph Richards on steph.richards@herrington-carmichael.com

Or visit our events page for details of all our latest events.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.


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