It’s difficult to explain what has happened over the last few months in the local market. Most of the press have eyes on London and the South East. There is a boom there without doubt.


One of my housing developer clients told me they are seeing £350,000 for a 500 square foot studio apartment in Islington. That’s a space 20 ft wide by 30 ft long. In that you have to squeeze a bathroom, kitchen and living sleeping space. The plan picture is 500 sq ft. Imagine if there re two of you – cosy!

You might have spotted that my blog posts are a little sporadic of late. The reason is that my work-life has changed beyond recognition in the last six months. I have bids at pre-crash prices on land, I have offers out on buying land and buildings and we are working as long hours as I can remember. All great for profitability – hard on the sleep thing!

But i can’t help but wonder if this is all a bit flash in the pan. None of us hope that this is the case – it’s been a long depression! But we all know that any Government funded schemes have to be spade ready and ideally finished before next March. The interest rates may well increase – although I have a suspicion that June 2015 is more likely than next January!

All eyes are on the General Election. In reality no one knows what is going to happen – uncertainty never helps a fragile market.

I just hope that we don’t go bust – again.

My brief podcast…

I did an interview with Lisa Plkington from the Estates Gazette on all things East Midlands property market – and MIPIM 2014!

You can listen to is here.

A Market Insite… for the East Midlands

Next week sees the launch of my firms annual research into the stare of the East Midlands property market. We hold three breakfast events – starting on Wednesday in Nottingham.


The document sets out the position for the year ending 31 December 2013 – and compares it to the last 5 years. Although it is at the printers at the moment and I’m sworn to secrecy there are some interesting facts emerging. Some of my colleagues re clearly feeling a little bullish too.

This from Robert Hartley, Managing Director’ “While there may be some headwinds to come, the improvement in the economy does seem to have gained traction and we can look forward to 2014 with some confidence.”

Whilst the picture was a little more considered by my agency colleagues in Nottingham,

“The Greater Nottingham industrial market held steady in 2013. Although activity dipped 15% on the previous year, takeup maintained the ten-year average There were mixed fortunes for the office market, with the city centre market putting in one of its weakest performances on record, while the out of town market fared much better. Although the number of deals in the city centre remained constant year on year, with one notable exception, the lack of larger deals above the 5,000 sq ft bracket contributed to a reduction in the 12-month takeup figures when compared to the previous year. In contrast, the out of town market achieved a near doubling in the number of deals, resulting in a 70% upsurge in activity. The stellar performance by the out of town market wasn’t quite enough to make up for the shortfall experienced in the city, with overall take-up figures down 8% to 402,300 sq ft by the year end.”

If you would like a copy of the report when it is published – get in touch! If you would like to come to the launch breakfast – likewise!

A bit busy!

I had a number of comments that the blog has been a bit quiet of late. I have been a bit busy!


There is a always a period running up to Christmas where we create a ‘deadline’ for ourselves – ‘can you get this over the line by Christmas’. We try to get things completed before the long break of Christmas and the New Year.

In the last few weeks the market does seem to have improved. I have put properties under offer and have let space on lease at a level not seen for some time. And long may it continue.

I think people are fed up of thinking that the property world is all doom and gloom and are trying to stimulate interest again. There are certainly more enquiries. Property that has stuck for some time is shifting – although perhaps that is a function of a more realistic view on value being taken.

We will publish our annual review of the market in January and I expect that we will see some movement in the figures – perhaps for the first time in five years?

So what will 2014 hold for the market? I expect that it will come out fighting in the early part of the year. We are still seeing some Government initiatives pump-priming the market.That will really bite in 2014 as much of that cash has a sell-by date of March 2015 on it! If we can generate some real interest in the market next year – it should carry us through the uncertainty of the following election year…

Fingers crossed.

The market headlines…

It’s all go go go. The market has shifted. Recession – what recession?


As you can see from the graph (taken from PropertyData) the world is smiling – especially in the property game. The dark years of 2008 are behind us. The flat-lining I have been talking about is … behind us. We should celebrate.

Or should we?


It seems that all of us need not celebrate. Those inside the M25 can – as the figures are so horribly skewed towards them.

Although the figures and statistics here don’t say a lot for the regions, We have noticed (as a firm) that there is a slight spring in the step of the market. There are more enquiries. We will always lag behind London but it does seem to be not as bad as it was!

Lumpy – like porridge

It’s that time of year again when my firm, Innes England, publishes a look back at the previous years trading in the East Midlands marketplace.


We hold three events – in each of the cities where we have offices. Leicester was Tuesday, Derby yesterday and this morning the final one was in Nottingham yesterday. We get around 600 people to come along.

This is our 7th year of publishing data about key deals and average rents / capital values in the three cities. The last 5 years have been difficult stories to tell. It’s not pretty as they say. Most people in the Industry realise that the market remains a challenge. Money remains tight. Deals are scarce and tenant is king – at the moment. I don’t need to bore you with this data – you already know.

There is an interesting take on all of this – perhaps we are in a depression. We have certainly been in the doldrums for a long period – and I can’t see what is changing at the moment. I can’t help but wonder if this place we are in is the new ‘norm’. We hark back to the boom times of 2007 – but no one I speak to thinks that this era is back anytime soon. The sentiment in the market is not an optimistic one. Subdued would be an understatement!

Even the Bank of England speaker, Alistair Cunningham, said we shouldn’t get too excited about 2013. Growth is likely to remain non-existent.

So we bobble along the bottom again. For the foreseeable future

Will Rossiter Nottingham Business School summed it up nicely at our event yesterday – ‘the market is like porridge – lumpy’!

If you would like a copy of our Market Insite and couldn’t make the presentations let me know through here and I will make sure we get you a copy!


At the East Midlands Property Dinner a couple of weeks ago Kurt Jacobs from Insider gave a speech which reflected on this past participle of the verb challenge. “Challenging” has become a by-word for the state of the property market.

Even Tom Bloxham, he of Urban Splash fame used it this week. He said, “the last few years have been challenging”.

We trot it out because it (sort of) suits our cause. In a word it neatly sums up where we are at.

But it gives quite a negative sentiment. It implies things are hard, tough or impossible? And therein lies an issue – which Kurt alluded to. The reality is that we live in a different time. We certainly have to work hard(er) to get property matters to work. Deals are complex to pull off – often because of the number of interested parties (buyers, funders, bankers, lawyers et al). Although the pace of professional life is frightening at times, working through things feels like walking in treacle?

But my point here is that although we think things are ‘challenging’ now haven’t they always been so? It wasn’t long ago when communicating with each other was by letter and the mobile telephone was the stuff of Star Trek… Imagine life now without email on your phone? Or my ability to take a photograph on my phone and send it to a client?

There have always been challenges. As someone much more intelligent than me once said, “if it was easy .. everyone would be doing it”. So we should rise to the challenge and see the issues as opportunities not problems?

This post needs to end here – far too many ‘quotes’.

Market – this is the way it is for a while?

The latest data on the state of the market has been published. I haven’t blogged the data for a little while as it doesn’t relay warrant comment.

But you can see from the graph, things have remained fairly static for the last three years – but improved from 2008/9. This represents the value of investments traded in the years to date for the last three years.

The interesting fact is that the average yield has tightened in the last month – meaning that prices have increased. It’s a slight increase and you wouldn’t bet your house on it.

There is still a lack of funds in the market from the Banks – but we are seeing some private equity – looking to put money back into property. Perhaps property prices have stabilised at a low ebb – and the market sees opportunities.

We don’t really expect to see a rise any time soon. I suspect that we are bobbing along the bottom – with prices fairly stable. Money, if you can get it is cheap. But if you have money you can get double-digit yield returns – which you certainly can’t get on deposit. And who knows, in the longer term prices might go up.

We would all tell you that it is a difficult market to read. We would all tell you that it is ‘challenging’. But, we are still here and going strong. It would just be nice to see a little bit of confidence in the sector…

The Nottingham Office Review 2011

It’s obviously that time of year when we look back at the previous year – in an effort to make sense of what is going on in our market.

The assembled participants - and me enjoying myself despite the fact is was before 8am...

The Nottingham Office Review is a collaborative document which is drawn together by CoStar – but takes information from all of the key Nottingham Agents. they then try to analyse what has happened in the local market.

This years review can be found here.

It was my colleague Craig Straw who presented the findings on behalf of the Forum assembled. I don’t need to replicate the report – but it is fair to say that Nottingham held its own last year. The number of deals were reduced but what did happen made for an ‘ok’ year. We have certainly done better than Birmingham which has a near 20% vacancy rate – against our approximate 13%

We have nearly 2.3m sq ft of offices in the pipeline – which should hold us in good place for future occupiers.

But in the meantime what I did like were the reasons to look at the City – I am happy to cut and paste…

* 8th largest recruitment catchment in the UK
* Over 1.1 million people in the journey to work area
* Over 98% of the UK market within a 4 hour drive of the city
* Access to 55,000 students studying at Nottingham’s two universities
*Home to global businesses including Capital One, Experian, Alliance Boots, Speedo and E.On
* A leading Science City in the UK with research excellence in BioSciences, Low Carbon Technologies and Digital Media
* Cutting edge global digital infrastructure
* Award winning integrated transport network with two new tram lines under construction
* Top 6 retail destination
* The UK’s most energy self-sufficient city

2011 – a miserable year for property…

I guess we knew what the headlines were going to be – and they haven’t disappointed…even if they are disappointing!

One trillion pounds - piled up next to an arctic....

In the commercial market in 2011 the value of UK commercial property investment transactions in Q4 2011 was £8.69 billion, down 25% on the same period for 2010. We were hit hard by the lack of liquidity in the market and by the Euro-Crisis.

UK house sales fell last year to 869,000, one of the lowest totals on record, HM Revenue & Customs has said. House price growth was just 1% – which in the circumstances was probably fairly good!

This seems to have been a long depression – the back end of 2008 was when we saw the writing on the wall – that is nearly 3.5 years ago. I don’t think we ever anticipated the market to flat-line for so long.

This week the UK reached £1tn (£1,000,000,000,000) in debt. To understand what one trillion looks like – go and have a look at your doormat – 1 Trillion of them would cover the whole of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Alternatively if you had spent £1m every day since Jesus was born, you would still have some change!

The really worrying thing is that there is little sign of a change in the short term. However, in the medium term I am involved in a number of major projects which could come to fruition in 2013-15. They have a long lead in, but I take some comfort in the fact that people are considering them. Of course this Parliament must be dissolved by May 2015, it is unlikely that the current incumbents will want to go to the Country with the current state of play.

Further I suspect that there will be some monies available starting next year. We will have the Olympics out of the way – I doubt we will ever know how much that has cost us. The budget of £9.3bn is apparently robust, money we can ill afford in the current economic climate!

Perhaps it is better in the middle distance than we think? I hope so!