December 18, 2017

Predictions for the housing sector in 2018


Written by Laura Taylor, Account Manager, Property

In the communications sector, much of what we do on behalf of clients hangs on our ability to anticipate future trends and upcoming topical issues. We are constantly advising our clients on how best to navigate communications around expected market shifts or political announcements. Yet if 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that some things just cannot be predicted and that reactive communications is as important today as proactive communications.

When you consider the housing sector in 2017, there are three things that really stand out: the long and eagerly awaited Housing White Paper finally saw the light of day, the snap General Election gave the UK its sixth housing minister since 2010 and the tragedy of Grenfell shone a light on the sectors inequalities and the importance of quality management and product specification. Two thirds of these may have been hard to predict but their impact continues to be felt across the country and we continue to advise our clients on their implications.

Despite the unpredictability of the market, media requests seeking 2018 housing predictions are coming in thick and fast, so we have put pen to paper to consider what 2018 is likely to bring for our clients and the sector more generally.

  1. The response to the Housing White Paper should finally be published with indications pointing towards a reveal early in the New Year. The Paper signalled a shift away from homeownership above all other tenures, despite the announcements laid out in Philip Hammond’s budget which heavily favoured initiatives to help people onto the housing ladder. We can expect the market to diversify to reflect demand in specific areas as well as a focus on build to rent and off-site manufacturing as the sector adapts. Alterations to definitions within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should be announced, with local authorities actively encouraged to plan not only for more new homes but specifically for build to rent schemes too.
  1. While other industries were quick to take up technological innovations, the housing sector has been relatively slow at recognising the potential. Yet the opportunity for the sector is huge with potential gains to be made which benefit both customers and businesses. Broadband is now viewed as the fourth utility and as integral to daily life as shops, doctors’ surgeries, transport and open space. Future proofing new developments through the provision of high-speed broadband access will become commonplace – connecting homes and businesses in even the remotest of places. Tech in the home is also entering a new era as people expect the seamless application of digital technology across their appliances and the ability to remotely control every aspect of their home. Businesses meanwhile are starting to view technology as central to their strategies – with the collection of data and understanding customer needs, desires and habits driving output. Technology, both in terms of products and services for consumers as well as businesses transacting in the property space will become mainstream and a part of daily lives.
  1. The undersupply of homes being delivered across the UK continues to be one of the nation’s biggest hurdles. The Conservative government has increased the target number of new homes to 300,000 a year – no small task and one that requires a political consensus and a long term housing strategy spanning decades rather than terms. Quality over quantity is a key lesson from 2017 and will have a firm place in housing policy in 2018, especially in social housing. Sajid Javid’s green paper on social housing will consider the central issue of overall quality and service management but also the wider issues of homelessness, place and community.

London, and the country as a whole, face unprecedented uncertainty in 2018 as Brexit negotiations continue and the possibility of a no deal scenario could become more apparent. Ultimately in this politically and economically turbulent time, it is difficult to predict with certainty what will happen next year. What is important is to be prepared for anything and to be well informed so that you are able to quickly and adeptly navigate and minimise any impact on your business.