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The industry focuses on brand purpose as events return in full swing.

By SEC Newgate team
22 September 2022

By SEC Newgate Property and Urban Renewal Teams

The world of real estate has been out in force at events over the past month – and as advisors to commercial and residential real estate firms across the board, we’ve been right out with them.

The market today is, very clearly, a different one to that of six months ago, never mind pre-pandemic times. From inflation and interest rates to changing consumer habits, the investment case across all segments of the market has changed. At events we hosted in our office and at industry events up and down the country, and on our laptop screens, we’ve been trying to help clients digest what it means for them.

The overall lessons: purpose is shining. Brands, regardless of what they do, need to have a clearer sense than ever as to why they exist and what impact they’re having on their communities (whether employees, investors, or the neighbourhoods around their assets). Those that have a clear sense of purpose, and articulate it well, should navigate the economic challenges – including the cost of living crisis – comfortably intact. Those that don’t may see their reputations shattered.

RESi360 – emap (the publishers of leading trade publication, Property Week)

Property Week’s RESi360 took place on 20-21 September at the Royal Lancaster hotel just off Hyde Park, having rebranded from its previous life as RESI Conference and taking place in north Wales.

Three strands in particular ran through the conference: how residential real estate is coping with the cost of living/doing business (both in terms of supporting residents and remaining commercially viable); the rise of purpose and the increasing sense that the industry has a responsibility to engage more heavily in placemaking and wider societal impact; and the metaverse.

While regeneration and placemaking is certainly not new, as was discussed in the session led by the English Cities Fund team of Muse Developments, L&G and Homes England, brand purpose is really finding its feet in the industry. The likes of British Land’s Symon Bacon spoke compellingly on how the community is leading the way in its regeneration of Canada Water, from the Printworks to the establishment of a Life Sciences quarter the result of experimentation and following the path of what is best for place and not profit.

In full swing of the cost of living crisis, the way property developers and investors talk about real estate returns has to change. As Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Editor and the event’s chair said, with Liz Truss’ new government there comes an attractive window of opportunity to engage with parliamentarians and help solve real estate’s challenges – which, when it means fewer new homes, quality high streets and unaffordable financing of new schemes, tend to turn into society’s problems.

In a lively panel debate on build to rent (BTR) much of the conversation focused on increased interest in home efficiency and whether or not this a short trend or a long-term shift. It was largely agreed that few brands or buildings are putting sustainability at the front of what they do and whether it might be appropriate to incentivise tenants to save on energy. Rory Cramer from HomeViews explained this happens with Moda Living where they share a league table to make residents aware of their energy use and perhaps this might inspire more thoughtful living.

Brendan Geraghty from the UKAA went onto consider the future explaining that whilst BTR is often labelled as a demographic specific product the future rental will absorb all the tenures – student, co-living and later living – and brands will play into each space at various points. The final question of the day came from Sagi Rubin from Tene Living who asked if BTR will go as far as to challenge us, the nation of homeowners, to embrace this way of life as it moves beyond young, singledoms to a broader set of demographics including divorcees and single parent families.

The economic outlook for the UK – SEC Newgate UK and BITA

Earlier this month, SEC Newgate UK, alongside BITA, hosted a panel discussion in our London office to discuss the economic crises engulfing us – and what businesses can and should be doing to protect themselves. Panellists from global investment giant CBRE IM, property consultancy Avison Young, real estate fund manager PfP Capital (which is part of Places for People), and SEC Newgate’s advocacy team tackled the political outlook, what will happen on interest rates and inflation, and where investors would be best advised to deploy their cash.

And the lessons of the panel? Keep investing in residential property, there will always be buyers for real estate with strong sustainability credentials – and Liz Truss’ brutal summer leadership election is going to be a holiday compared to what comes next.

Mapping the Future - What makes the perfect location? – HomeViews

Offering a refreshing take on place, last week we joined HomeViews - a review site dedicated to residential property – as it launched its latest Location Ratings Report.

Location is a hotter topic than ever, especially in the context of global unrest, a cost of living crisis and ongoing questions about home or office working. So, based on its analysis of over 28,000 resident reviews of the streets on which they live, HomeViews, along with an expert panel, took a deep dive into the lived experience across the UK. What’s it actually like to live there? Where do people love to live – and where don’t they? And how do you choose the best residential location, be it for buying, renting or building?

While Edinburgh topped the list as the best place to live overall (with Scotland in general faring well), London was left rather lacking as the lowest-rated wider region. With public transport connections, and proximity and variety of restaurants and shops two key factors that put Edinburgh in the top spot, it does beg the question on why London was so low when, arguably, the capital also enjoys good connectivity and access to local amenities. Then again, perhaps it’s not so much of a surprise when you consider the increasing importance of affordability and cost of living…

Panellist Jackie Sadek from Urban Strategy offered up an apt summary when looking at the key drivers for regeneration: sustainability, cost of living, health and wellbeing, community, transport and leadership. A handy list not just for those looking to develop great places, but live in them too.

Spear’s 500 Live

This year’s Spear’s 500 Live brought together a host of experts to share their insights on navigating the world of wealth and (ultra) high net worth individuals, across a series of panel discussions, keynote speeches and fireside chats.

When it comes to property, one key trend was on the growing importance of off-market deals. Previously a choice more common in the ultra-prime sector, where discretion and exclusivity are paramount, off-market activity is now accounting for an increasing proportion of sales, despite the significant premium it commands, as people attempted to limit access to their homes during the pandemic.

Another theme that dominated the real estate conversation was the labour shortage and rising cost of materials. Though much of the conversation to date has centred around the new build market, experts highlighted this is an issue also affecting supply and demand at the top end of the market.

Before, a doer-upper in a prime London postcode was the holy grail of property purchases. But now, with supply so short and the cost per square metre to refurbish rapidly rising, it looks turnkey property is very much back in vogue for the foreseeable.

We hope you enjoyed this week's Property & Urban Renewal takeover for SEC Newgate News. To get in touch with our team of specialists, email