First published by Financial Reporter
A return to market norms
For those of a certain vintage the words, ‘What happens next?’, will always be synonymous with a giggling Emlyn Hughes, a taciturn Bill Beaumont, a perpetually amused David Coleman, and the name of a round in A Question of Sport.
I’m fully aware that the programme is still going, and I believe it’s going to go through its umpteenth change of captains soon, with a new host. However, for those of us who remember just four TV channels to choose from it was appointment television, garnering many millions of viewers back in the late 80s/early 90s, and so will perhaps be ever linked with whoever were the captains during ‘your era’.
Part of me wonders if large parts of the media in particular aren’t playing a similar game at present when it comes to the future of the UK housing market. But, instead of a pole vaulter’s pole snapping or a boxing referee getting hit in the privates, there’s a genuine concern that the entire market will go over the edge of a canyon like Evel Knievel at his most optimistic.
You’ll perhaps be unsurprised to learn that I tend not to see the next six months, or even further into the future, with such an apocalyptic vision. Yes, the end of the stamp duty holiday this month, and then the partial holiday in September, are likely to coincide with a slight drop off in purchase activity, but the likelihood is that the market will return to its norms.
It’s likely remortgage and product transfer business will reassert itself. However, the market still has a considerable amount of purchase demand to work through, given the demographics of the country and the increased interest from buyers in particular to secure properties which work in a post-pandemic environment.
A continuous recruitment project
There’s also other themes emerging which perhaps give an indication of what market stakeholders think the future looks like. I wrote last month about the ongoing recruitment taking place right across the property market and suggested firms unsure of what the future might bring, or even considering thoughts of a cataclysmic drop in business, would not be upping their human resources in such a considerable way.
My belief in that holds firmer with every passing week, because as a business which is on a continuous recruitment project we’re fully aware of the competition not just for quality, experienced surveyors but also those looking at beginning their careers in the property market. In that we are not just up against those who work in the same sector but pretty much the entire property market right now – the fact being that agents, advisers, lenders, conveyancers, proptech firms, you name it, are also all looking for those individuals who want to make a career for themselves in property.
Which makes it an interesting time to be in recruitment mode and makes us think long and hard about what we can offer new employees, whether its flexible contracts which many people would now prefer, or uncapped bonus opportunities, a company car, excellent technology and a distinct lack of paper administration, job security – given our growth and onboarding of new clients, or a structured training programme.
That latter point is particularly pertinent because we’ve found one of the key priorities, specifically for new entrants or indeed those who are, for example, at AssocRICs status, is their desire to move to full MRICS and become a fully accredited RICS professional.
Ongoing training and qualification programmes are non-negotiable
We’ve just recently had two people progress during lockdown through their accreditation, which to my mind, shows an absolutely amazing level of commitment and fortitude, but it seems to be indicative of the staff we often bring on board, and having a formal pathway for employees to follow is something that can make all the difference to individuals who may well be weighing up a number of options.
Whatever the sector, having an excellent training and qualification programme seems like a non-negotiable and it’s certainly something we prioritise here along with ensuring the full package of pay and benefits meets the needs of those either seeking to move within the sector or looking for a new role in it.
The message however is a positive one to be pushing out, particularly in an environment where some might be looking for the negative. The future for the housing market looks strong and we’re doing everything we can to ensure we have everything in place to deal with all the business we anticipate will continue to flow long into the future.
Simon Jackson is managing director at SDL Surveying