The residential market in 2012 continued to show marked regional variations in valuation movements. In London, where 50% of our assets by market value are located, we saw year on year growth of 7.4% with Central London showing the highest growth at 12.0% and Inner and Outer London showing increases of 6.4% and 3.0% respectively. Our assets in some Northern regions of the country saw further falls in value (Scotland -1.7% and North East -1.7%) compared to the smaller falls/marginal increases in other regions (South West -0.3% and East Anglia 1.0%). More recently, however, there are some signs of stability in the regions as confidence improves at the lower end of the market where much of Grainger’s stock is priced.
One significant area of growth in the housing market is the private rented sector (PRS). The sector comprises 3.65m households, a rise of over a million in the last 10 years and in London the PRS is estimated to now exceed 25% of households or 800,000 homes, with the sector expected to continue to grow.
The Montague Review, set up by the Housing Minister in December 2011, highlighted the need to build more homes for rent and to increase the level of institutional investment in the sector. The Review made a number of recommendations including better use of public land, the creation of an enabling fund to bridge the gap between conception and completion of purpose built rental stock and a reduction in the requirement for the provision of affordable housing on build to rent schemes. The Government embraced the report and shortly afterwards announced a £200m enabling fund for the PRS specifically and a £10bn loan guarantee for the acquisition of new homes built for rent (private or affordable). Local Planning Authorities already have the power to determine the amount of affordable housing each development proposal should build and there are already signs that some Local Authorities are considering the opportunities the recommendations provide on land in their ownership.
These changes in tenure mix, development focus and attitudes to renting provide a huge opportunity for multi-disciplined residential investors and developers such as Grainger. Indeed we are already creating opportunities as evidenced by our innovative agreement with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, announced recently, and our ongoing development of activities in the build to rent sector.