Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

On forecasting and market insight Savills' Director of Residential Research explains what the team are considering currently

Residential Investor

Just over ten and a half years ago I was working as a land agent specialising complex tax valuations, when I received a call from one of Savills’ head honchos asking me if I would like to go to his house on a Sunday morning for a cup of coffee and a chat.

I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse, a move across to the intoxicating world of residential property research. And so I began my conversion from humble chartered surveyor to supposed housing market guru.

Fast forward to 2017 and it would appear that not everyone approves of my elevated status. I recently received an email from a property investor who, it would seem, lost his first marriage worrying about the market and was almost wiped out by the last market correction.

Without wishing to dwell too much on the detail of the correspondence, he not only questioned the accuracy of my forecasting record and understanding of property cycles (it’s simply a case of seven years of feast and seven years of famine apparently) but also the general validity of my place in society.

This email happened to coincide with the inception of our forecasting process.

What, then, has been taxing our minds as we seek to maintain our enviable reputation for market insight?

First up we have been looking at lead indicators of sentiment in each of the main regional markets, to capture what current political and economic uncertainty mean for different parts of the market. We’ve then overlaid that against analysis of where underlying affordability sits and the capacity for house price growth as interest rates rise gradually. From there we’ve been looking at historic cycles, the extent of the potential for markets further from London to play catch up and whether there are the economic catalysts to unlock that potential.

In all of this London presents perhaps the biggest challenge. It appears to be coming to the back end of a prolonged bull run, leaving it more exposed to the effect of political and economic uncertainty on sentiment and more restricted by the constraints of mortgage regulation.

In looking at this we have been mindful of the fact that the oft commented upon prime central London market is very different from the mainstream markets in the capital.

Residential Investor

About Lucian Cook

Lucian Cook

Lucian Cook is a head of Savills’ UK Residential Research department. He is one of the country’s most authoritative housing market commentators, having been a director in Savills' much-respected research team since 2007. As an industry figurehead he regularly presents on the UK housing markets and frequently appears on radio and television. Lucian joined Savills in 1993 after completing a degree in Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. He qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1995. As a practising surveyor he specialised in the provision of valuation advice for taxation, loan security and dispute resolution purposes and strategic management advice for a range of private and institutional clients. At Savills he leads a team of 25 highly respected researchers. Collectively they cover everything from social housing to the prime markets of central London and development land to residential investment. He edits The Residential Property Spotlights and has written extensively on the prime housing markets, proposals for the reform of the taxation of high value property, the demand for private rented housing and opportunities for institutional investment in the residential sector. He is jointly responsible for formulating and presenting Savills' views on the residential property and development land markets to a range of clients and journalists. He provides consultancy advice to landowners, developers, housebuilders and investors.

Articles by Lucian Cook

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