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Published 5 June 2018
Increasingly I am hearing the sentiment that it's the most exciting time to be in housebuilding; possibly for the last thirty years. What's behind these enthusiastic views? Those on my list have been emerging over the last few years, but collectively they represent a game change, whose impact is made all the greater because of an accelerated pace of change.
House prices: a shift from continuous growth to greater stability will require some re-examination of business models and operating practice.
Neighbourhoods not numbers: Sophisticated place-making requires greater collaboration from all parties involved. Sometimes the collaboration is formalised through joint ventures; organisations doing together what can't be done as single entities. Associated with this shift is the change from the uniform to greater diversity of build types, more mindful of different needs, new materials and technology.
City centres: the drift to urban living is now a continual surge; not just for the young, but for families and the plus 55's. People want the convenience, the greater access to amenities, transport and neighbours that this location brings.
PRS: There has been a societal shift in attitudes towards renting in this country. It is an increasingly positive choice for people who like the flexibility, allowing them to readily follow the work. PRS has shifted from experiment to permanent. Those owners who can find a successful formula for critical mass will be those that thrive. Alongside this is the shift from the absentee landlord to the active landlord providing a range of managed services.
55 plus: Like many I am struggling to find a descriptor, or indeed descriptors, for this group. The market is recognising that there are very different degrees of older. Established models of retirement living are not working if an owned property doesn't become an asset. There is more and more interest in prs for this market sector from the development and investment sector.
Technology: a shift from the brainless house to the clever house. Technology is being used not just to control heating and lighting; it can learn how its occupants live and adapt services accordingly. This extends to sensing when people become ill and raising the alarm.
Construction: a shift from on site to off site. Modular build is a way of meeting time and quality targets and can also help get around labour shortages. The shift from traditional bricks and mortar is one that is learning from techniques long applied in other countries.
All this exciting for me because it shows a sector that is adapting to economic and societal shifts. The sector has continued to improve the way it responds to change; listening to customer requirements more carefully and adapting more quickly. If the sector can continue to be agile and to keep on looking for innovative responses, then I believe the excitement can only grow.
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