Economic performance drives UK property markets, not elections

Taylor Scott International News

The upcoming general election in the UK has so far had a minimal impact on the country’s property markets as the economy is the more significant driver, it is claimed. Periods of strong economic growth coincide with strong office take-up and the correlation between property related decisions and timing of general elections is negligible, according to a new report by commercial property and real estate services advisor CBRE. ‘Conventional wisdom suggests that property markets slow as a general election approaches. Elections are uncertain, with the forthcoming election more uncertain than most,’ said Miles Gibson, head of UK research at CBRE. ‘However, the data shows that the property market is actually very resilient in the run-up to an election, with little observable change to the overall behaviour of the market, except where a detailed policy has already been proposed, such as the mansion tax,’ he explained. ‘There is little, if any, evidence of UK general elections having any overall impact on property investors or occupiers, the pace of planning decisions, or house prices. This may be because Party manifesto policies on property are typically very general and, where they are specific, they take time to be implemented,’ he added. Using data from the past 30 years, the report says there is little evidence to suggest that general elections cause a slowdown in the central London office investment market. In the last 30 years, there have been six general elections, all of which took place in the second quarter of the year. Second quarters tend to be quieter than the quarterly average. This holds true for non-general election years as well as general election years. However, there were year on year increases in investment transactions observed in five out of the six general election quarters in the period suggesting that the traditional weakness of second quarters is due to seasonal factors unrelated to the occurrence of general elections. The report points out that the central London investment market is very strong at present. With latent demand undoubtedly robust, the strength of the market in the first half of 2015 will be driven by the availability of stock rather than the election outcome. As evidence, it says that commercial occupiers in central London seem undeterred by the forthcoming general election as evidenced by the 15 million square feet leased during 2014, the highest annual total since 2006. It also says that against a backdrop of robust economic and strong office based employment growth, demand for office space will not diminish because of an impending election. This is already reflected in an above average level of space under offer and a high level of active requirements, suggesting that 2015 will be yet another good year for leasing activity. The report also argues that there is no discernible negative impact at a national level in the residential sector on either the mortgage market… Continue reading →

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