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10 JUL 2018

Residential property conference report 2018

The residential sector is hugely diverse, as reflected both in the variety of professions represented by attendees and the speakers’ presentations. Innovation, disruption and best practice in the housing sector were the conference themes.

Introducing the day, Paul Cutbill, head of professional development at Countrywide Surveying Services, showed a video explaining RICS initiatives. These included published standards to promote best practice; influencing government responses to residential issues; attending political party conferences; advising on the post-Grenfell Tower tragedy; the surveying in practice roadshows and work on new methods of construction. Paul asked attendees to recognise those professionals who willingly shared their expertise with RICS members on top of the day job.

Economy

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, gave an economic update on the residential property market. Despite the prolonged heatwave in Q2, Q1 had been affected by awful weather, the ongoing uncertainty regarding Brexit, a possible trade war and constraints on spending because of modest gains in real income. He also recognised that the boosts to net exports because of the depreciation in sterling were likely to fade.

Q1 had been affected by awful weather, the ongoing uncertainty regarding Brexit, a possible trade war and constraints on spending because of modest gains in real income.

However, he said it was not all doom and gloom in the economy, and urged delegates to remember, given his experience in similar situations, that Brexit negotiations would take time.

A CEO forum was chaired by Peter Bolton King. The panel comprising Helen Gordon, chief executive of Grainger, Killian Hurley, chief executive Mount Anvil, Dan Gandesha, founder of Property Partner and Jeff Doble, CEO of Dexters, gave its views on issues impacting the residential sector, how to respond to the raft of government changes and legislation, risks and opportunities in the housing market, the housing shortage, and where the next generation of housebuilders would come from.

Breakout sessions

Delegates then had a choice of breakout sessions. The first, survey and valuation, considered new common housing defects, and was led by Steve Hodgson, CEO of the Property Care Association. Jason Hardman executive director of CBRE, then discussed the new guidance note on valuing residential property purpose-built for renting and James Ginley looked at valuation of non-traditional and modern methods of construction.

The second breakout session on agency and property management comprised a roundup of policy and case law, led by Sarah Conway, partner with Maurice Turnor Gardner. This covered legislation of which all agents should be aware, such as MEES and the Leasehold Reform Bill 2017-2019. It was followed by a debate on the future of renting, renters’ changing demands, PropTech and how High Street agents can rival their online/hybrid competitors. Maxine Fothergill, managing director of Amax Estates and Property Services, chaired a panel of senior figures from rental agencies.

After a networking lunch, there were plenary sessions on PropTech, presented by Saurabh Saxena, founder of Houzen and retirement housing, led by Anthony Oldfield, director of Healthcare, Alternatives, JLL. RICS Director of Technical Standards, Professional Groups, Alex Aronsohn stressed the importance of international professional measuring standards. Innovative investment in the residential sector was the subject of the presentation by Alex Greaves, fund manager at M&G real estate.

The final two sessions focused on social housing and housing associations. Professor Christine Whitehead, Professor Emeritus in Housing Economics at the LSE, asked What is the role of social housing, then chaired a panel debate on Where next for housing associations and councils, with senior members of housing associations and councils.