What’s in store for the West Midlands property market in 2017?

David Tonks, Head of Cushman & Wakefield Birmingham

David Tonks, Head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Birmingham office comments:

“Once again the property market across the Midlands has proved to be resilient in the face of the considerable headwinds that we encountered in 2016. Confidence amongst occupiers in the key regional markets has remained strong and this has resulted in a level of take-up in all sectors that is at, or slightly in excess of, the long term average. In the investment market volumes may be down and attitudes to risk adjusted but across the year there has been a theme of business as usual and the key fundamentals of the property market continue to underpin the obvious confidence in the larger markets.

“With a catchment of over 4.3 million people within an hour’s drive coupled with the youngest population in any major European city, Birmingham meets the fundamental requirements of major employers in the office, industrial and retail sectors. As we enter 2017 it is these key strengths of the City that will enable further inward investment into the region which also offers the range of skills that footloose demands including 120,000 graduates per annum from 20 universities. It is not a surprise that there is an air of cautious optimism in the Midlands property industry for the medium term.

“Contrary to recent commentary there remains real choice for office occupiers in the majority of sectors and the development / refurbishment pipeline is delivering high quality space that would not look out of place in the London market. This space is available at a discount of up to 70 % in property costs alone compared to the capital. If Brexit does bring a spotlight on cost it is clear that these characteristics will serve to make the area more attractive as a consolidation destination for inward investment.

“There is little doubt that the City will maintain a strong national profile as HS2, the mayoral elections and the impact of the Combined Authority all become increasingly evident. There are obvious challenges including land supply and the housing shortage that exists both locally and nationally. Global political and economic events may cause further concern and it seems likely that we will be discussing the impact of inflation for the first time in years but the increasingly flexible approach adopted by the property industry and the speed of response to market changes will ensure that 2107 is another interesting year for the industry as a whole with opportunities for those prepared to adapt to the consumers demands.”