What lies ahead for UK real estate in 2024?

By Tom Brown, Managing Director, Real Estate at Ingenious

As interest rate increases continue to bite and the costs and challenges of property development, especially in London, remain high, we expect to see a continuation of the market trends we have seen in 2023 going into the New Year. It’s reassuring to note that as we enter 2024, there is a noticeably more stable outlook for inflation compared to what we were faced with at the beginning of 2023.

Buy-to-let market

Whilst buy-to-let (BTL) investors are benefitting from double digit increases in rents across the UK, the costs to many private landlords from higher interest rates and the increased tax burden, means we expect many private investors will continue to exit the market which will further reduce the supply of rental stock. Looking forward, the landscape of the UK residential rental market continues to shift towards purpose-built accommodation owned and managed by financial institutions. Large pension funds and insurance companies are taking the lead here and will increasingly dominate the larger developments with significant financing opportunities arising in the mid-market development space.

Support for first time buyers

First time buyers are crucial to the health of the wider market, the economy and support our way of life here in the UK. This crucial cohort of potential buyers are currently faced with increasingly expensive mortgages requiring high deposits or the challenges and costs associated with renting. The government should look closely at how they can carefully intervene in this area to allow first time buyers access to the market in a way that does not unduly inflate property prices and provides good value for taxpayers.   

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Residential prices holding firm

The UK continues to face a shortage of housing infrastructure, which will continue to support property prices despite the higher costs of borrowing. Widespread predictions of a noticeable decline in residential prices linked to higher borrowing rates seem to have been overstated. Indeed, there are noticeable factors that are applying the break to price falls. With residential rents experiencing a year-on-year increase of approximately 12%, there is both the opportunity and liquidity within the Build to Rent, Private Rented (PRS), Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), and Co-Living spaces. We are firmly focused on serving the needs of developers operating in those sectors alongside those operating in the Build to Sell market.

Impact of a potential change of government

Housing remains a fundamental political issue here in the UK and ranks highly on the list of concerns for voters up and down the country. As such, it is imperative for every political party, regardless of its affiliation, to include comprehensive policies addressing the core issues of supply and affordability in their manifesto commitments. We don’t expect to see a significantly different approach should a change of national government take place during 2024. Many of the issues on the ground relate to local planning policies and decisions which continues to be a big challenge for developers to navigate. The position on the ground locally seems unlikely to be radically altered by a change in national politics.     

Market outlook

The New Year will bring with it a new and exciting set of challenges and opportunities for growth and progression in what we do. We are looking forward to continuing to work with borrowers and investors and delivering for them. The dynamic landscape of the markets that we serve, and the wider economy requires us to evolve to stay relevant in addressing diverse challenges including the climate crisis, and changes in the way we are all living. 2024 will see Ingenious broaden the reach of our widely embraced development lending product. This expansion aims to offer extended terms for stabilisation to specialised developers within the rental sectors. Additionally, special lending terms will be introduced for developers with a specific focus on minimising embedded carbon in their construction practices.

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