NARA Spring Conference - Richard Watson Reviews
Spirits were high at the NARA Annual Spring Conference, which was held at the glorious Haberdashers’ Hall in Smithfield, London on 16th May. The event is always a pleasure to attend and this year the BidX1 team were there in force as one of the headline sponsors.
In attendance were the great and the good of the Law of Property Act (LPA) receiver world, who had come together from key firms across the UK for what promised to be a fantastic conference with a stellar line up of key speakers. This included John Sergeant - the award-winning former Chief Political Correspondent for the BBC; Andrew Sentence CBE - a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and senior advisor to PwC; Miles Shipside – a founding director of Rightmove and Kevin Hollinrake MP - Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Gove at DEFRA.
The excitement in the room when John Sergeant took to the podium was palpable. Here was a man who had spent his life observing and commenting on political challenges that had changed the entire direction of the property market (amongst other things) and which had brought home ownership into the hands of the general population during the Thatcher years.
What were his views on the ‘B’ word? Who did he think would be the next Prime Minister? How will this affect the property market? The first two questions were fair game. The third maybe less so, but it is a good question nonetheless and one we have had to grapple with throughout the year.
To date, like it or loath it, volumes of property being sold at auction is over 30% down year-on-year. Indeed, volumes across all markets are down and this has been well publicised. Last month, Foxton’s reported revenue from sales down 14% year-on-year and this is being echoed throughout the residential sector.
Market conditions are being driven by a political will to realign pricing within the housing market and a strong desire by the Bank of England to reduce the economic risk of a mass property sell-off generated by a ‘herd mentality’, should the economy suffer a sudden shock. Such factors have resulted in apathetic market conditions. Add to it the uncertainty caused by Brexit and we can see why everyone connected to property, be it home ownership, investment or business, is pausing before making any key decisions.
If we overlay economic factors it then becomes hard to see how ‘good’ growth will be generated. The optimists amongst us may take the view that there are many positives. For example, they may say that we are enjoying the lowest unemployment rate since 1974, which of course is wonderful. But the pessimists may counter that the low unemployment rate and the additional capacity it has given to the economy has already happened. There is no more to give and those chips have been cashed.
At BidX1, through the use of our digital platform and bespoke technology, we are able to see trends quickly both at macro and micro level. Our data and analytics show where the market is being more confident - be it by sector or location - and what the depth of the market is. Combine these analytics with speaking to buyers, underbidders and those simply curious, we are able to see the full picture. This enables our experienced in-house team of surveyors to make informed decisions around property pricing and sale strategy, ensuring we get the best results for our clients.
So what does the future hold?
For the short term we cannot see much, if any, change to the status quo. However, in the medium term and once Brexit has happened, uncertainty will be reduced enabling the market to plan with more confidence and make decisions with greater certainty. In basic terms, the pent-up desire to transact will have an outlet and this overview was certainly echoed by those Receivers attending the NARA conference.
As for John Sergeant’s predictions? Well, Brexit is a poor decision being poorly managed. And the next Prime Minister? Possibly Boris, but hopefully not..!
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