There is no question that Covid-19 has completely torn through the UK economy, with any...
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Across the property investment and development market, activity continues apace despite the challenges posed by Lockdown 3.0.
Here, PIT zones in on a new podcast launched by a well-known property podcasting duo, the outlook for investors in the year ahead and a new affordable housing scheme in Castleford.
Seasoned podcast duo launches new show
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns has been the humble podcast, which has helped to keep people entertained, informed, educated and uplifted during difficult times.
Whether it’s Louis Theroux’s popular Grounded series, Off Menu with James Acaster and Ed Gamble, or more niche industry-specific podcasts, this form of media has been experiencing a massive boom in audience numbers and popularity.
One of the most popular property podcasts is provided by Property Hub co-founders Rob Dix and Rob Bence (often known as Rob & Rob), who co-host The Property Podcast.
The duo has recently launched a brand-new show, Any Other Business, which first aired on January 15 and sees Rob & Rob share their ‘brutally honest’ personal experiences of the business world as they prepare to document the next phase of their scale-up journey.
The new venture comes after the pair achieved great success with their original podcast, which regularly tops the UK business podcast charts. Before it was cancelled due to coronavirus, the pair were set to do their first live podcast at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last year, with a number of loyal listeners in attendance.
Any Other Business follows the pair as they embark on their plans to disrupt the property investment sector.
Rob & Rob originally joined forces in 2012 for ‘The Property Podcast’, where they sought to demystify property investment. Nine years later, it boasts an audience which is over ‘100,000 strong’, achieves more than 300,000 downloads per month and has grown into Property Hub - a ‘vast property community but also a multi-service business’, which offers free online education about property investment, a portfolio building service and a letting agency.
“Since starting The Property Podcast and growing our business, we’ve discovered our audience crave more unfiltered honesty. The episodes where we’ve shared our personal journeys are often the most popular, so launching Any Other Business seemed the perfect move to make,” Rob Bence said.
“There’s a real hunger out there for brutally honest advice and while everyone’s social media feeds are full of aspirational success stories of those who have made it, there’s nobody sharing the real behind the scenes grit of what it takes to build it.”
He added: “Our listeners know that honesty is at the root of everything we do - we don’t have any interest in blowing our own trumpets and skirting over our failures. That’s why with Any Other Business, we’re inviting listeners to hear about our successes but also learn from our mistakes - even the million-pound ones, and hopefully have a few laughs along the way.”
When it comes to the prospects for landlords and property investors in 2021, Terry Mason – group operations director at rental guarantor service Housing Hand - believes uncertainty is the only certainty.
“The vaccination roll-out won’t happen fast enough to save the rental sector from the financial fallout of the pandemic for at least the first half of the year, if not the entire year,” he said.
“Covid-19 has introduced uncertainty across the full spectrum of the private rented sector, affecting those looking for new lets, those looking to rent for the first time and those looking to renew existing tenancies.”
He said those looking for new lets have the challenge of a lack of available property in some areas, while across the country those whose income has suffered during the pandemic face the possibility of failing referencing.
From the perspective of investors, landlords and letting agents, the financial impact of the pandemic has already been devastating, according to Mason.
“There is a limit to the length of time that landlords and investors can afford to keep housing those who pay a reduced rent or even no rent at all. Letting agents, meanwhile, rely on receiving a percentage of rents as management fees – but 15% of £0 is £0. The government urgently needs to step in and offer support, rather than relying on private landlords and investors to house tenants for free,” he said.
The uncertain rental market in 2021 will be further compromised by Brexit, Mason believes.
“Currently it is difficult to see the effect that this is having, as travel restrictions due to Covid have trumped Brexit restrictions,” Mason explained. “However, going forward the UK must look at attracting individuals from Europe where needed, to come to the UK to work and study. Getting this wrong will cost the country and our rental market dearly.”
What does all this mean for landlords and investors? “Another year of uncertainty, unfortunately. While it’s reasonable to expect that the private rented sector will eventually return to its pre-Covid state, that’s more likely to be on the cards for 2022, rather than 2021, and there’s still Brexit to account for. Time for landlords and investors to batten down the hatches,” he warned.
Developer to begin work on £9.2 million affordable housing scheme
Esh Construction is poised to start work on a £9.2 million scheme which will deliver 82 new homes for affordable rent and shared ownership in Castleford.
The land is being jointly developed by Leeds Federated Housing Association (LFHA) and WDH, with each registered provider managing 43 units and 39 units respectively.
Supported with Homes England funding, and designed by Leeds-based Brewster Bye Architects, the scheme offers a mix of two, three and four-bedroom houses, as well as four bungalows. The development will transform a 2.2-hectare patch of unused grassland on Pemberton Road which LFHA successfully purchased from Wakefield Council in 2020.
Working in partnership with Brewster Bye Architects, BWA (Europe) Ltd and Walker Ingram Associates, Esh Construction’s affordable housing division has been appointed as the design and build contractor for the development – which also includes new road construction and all associated external works.
“We are delighted to have secured this contract and to be working in partnership once again with Leeds Federated Housing Association and WDH,” Stuart Leslie, divisional director at Esh Construction, said.
“We are due to commence work on circa £50 million of new affordable housing schemes across the Yorkshire region in the coming months and this is yet another great project which we are proud to be delivering for the community.”
Stephen Ellis, head of development at Leeds Federated, said the announcement is more great news for the housing association, as it continues an ambitious programme of providing great-quality, affordable homes within Castleford, across the Wakefield district and the wider Leeds City Region.
“We look forward to working again with Esh and other partners on this exciting new Homes England funded development,” he added.
Sue Young, WDH’s executive director of investment, also chimed in: “As a business we are always looking for opportunities to provide high-quality homes within the local area, both for affordable rent and sale with shared ownership,” she said.
“This scheme will enhance the area, providing more families and professionals with great places to live, and offers a range of modern living options for prospective customers and tenants with excellent transport links to the M62. By investing in our local area, we are creating homes for those who need them in an area that is always in high demand.”
Next month construction work is expected to commence on-site, with a view to the first new homes being available for residences by the summer of 2022.