Local chartered surveyor Charlotte Bland from Caxtons has joined Kent Invicta Chamber’s North Kent Economic Development Group.
An associate director and commercial and investment surveyor at Caxtons, Charlotte has been with the firm since 2011. She is fast becoming an expert in her field. Her local knowledge is acute and she is respected by clients, colleagues and peers alike.
Charlotte takes her new appointment on the Group very seriously. She says, “I am keen to inform others of the current property market from the perspective of someone ‘on the ground’. It is very easy to classify North Kent along with the rest of the South East but there are anomalies and subtle differences. Geographically, we are ideally placed to take advantage of excellent infrastructure and with government backing for the Ebbsfleet new town development, this is an area of future growth.”
Charlotte has prepared an overview of the current property market conditions.
The residential market: Tighter lending criteria were introduced as part of the Mortgage Market Review. Initially, this appeared to have an impact on borrowing, but the Bank of England claims that the dampening effect of the new rules on the housing market was transitional and is waning now that lenders are acclimatising to the new regime.
Despite the growth in the number of sales slowing slightly across the last few months, Halifax reported that house prices increased by 1.4% in July from June, rising 3.6% in the 3 months to the end of July and 10.2% on the same period a year ago, with housing shortage, a buoyant economy and low borrowing costs still driving prices.
The office market: A large number of older, obsolete offices are being sold for conversion to residential following the introduction of the change in permitted development rights, which seems to be reducing the levels of supply significantly.
London suburbs, such as Bromley, are seeing a commercial property boom as buyers who are priced out of the centre of London look for cheaper offices.
The industrial market: Growth in the UK manufacturing base has led to increased demand for space whilst severe supply constraints mean ‘build to suit’ deals reached the highest level seen since before the downturn.
The Midlands was the main focus of this activity followed by the wider South East region.
Prices have continued to harden for both prime and good secondary assets throughout 2014, reflecting the sheer weight of money in the market and competition for limited product.
Examples of key large format developments to commence this year included Invicta Riverside in Aylesford (Roxhill Developments Ltd) and Tower, West Thurrock (Blackrock & Bericote).
The retail market: This market is still underperforming in contrast to the office and industrial sectors with the divide between the best and worst high streets widening further.
However, consumer confidence has improved significantly in the last year and this has translated through to sales, which is a positive sign.
Online sales continue to grow, and consequently traditional bricks and mortar stores in less desirable locations will continue to struggle.
In addition, Charlotte questions whether the deferment of the revaluation of properties for the purposes of business rates left many business paying disproportionately high rates in comparison to market rents.
“I think we should consider whether this is inhibiting the revival of the retail market, whilst high streets should also seek to move away from a solely retail offering and incorporate a leisure element in order to create a bigger pull effect on the local community. Another approach may be to make some or all car parking free and more conveniently located in town centres, as it is with many out of town retail centres, to encourage more shoppers to use their local high street. I am not saying that these measures will reverse fortunes but they could be considered as part of a bigger strategy to revitalise our high streets.”