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Economic growth the top priority for UK real estate sector in 2020

Achieving economic growth was revealed to be the most widely shared ambition for 2020 among residential and commercial property developers, investors and advisers.

That is according to a survey by European law firm Fieldfisher, which found that 45% of respondents highlighted this as a key priority for the next 12 months.

However, while the UK’s Brexit fate hung in the balance in the run-up to the General Election on 12 December, more than half of respondents (53%) said that 2019 had been a challenging year for their business and a third (33%) said they expected challenges to persist next year.

The outlook was less optimistic in the medium term, with 33% of respondents deciding it was impossible to predict their business’s rate of growth over the next five years, and a further 27% projecting flat performance.

A quarter (25%) of those surveyed cited Brexit as the biggest risk to their business or the real estate industry as a whole, while the same number feared domestic government policy most.

The biggest concern was economic recession, with 32% of respondents highlighting this as the main risk to the sector.

Fieldfisher’s survey was held just days before the General Election on 12 December, when Brexit was still uncertain. While the feedback may have been different had participants known that the Conservatives were heading for their mandate a few days later, based on sentiment at the time, it is clear that there is considerable uncertainly in the market for 2020.

However, there is appreciation of a variety of new opportunities, which the firm says have the potential to facilitate organic growth.

The largest proportion (44%) of those surveyed said they saw the biggest growth opportunities in UK commercial real estate next year, while 31% identified domestic residential property as likely to be the strongest performer.

When it came to which specific segments would yield the greatest opportunities, respondents were split, with hotels, Build to Rent, social housing and student residential all expected to do well – although the most popular segment among survey respondents was industrial real estate.

You can view the full results of the survey here.

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