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News

Recession Warning Signs

21/10/2019
By Mark Bailey, Director, Landwood Group

How is your business doing? Depending on what you make, buy or sell that answer is going to be wildly different right now.

Struggling manufacturing, high street doom and gloom, consumer uncertainty… the B word (Boris or Brexit, take your pick)… rarely has the UK been in the state it is right now.

In property, we are seeing the negative signs too. Construction is struggling, banks aren’t lending as much as they were a year ago.

More worryingly, at Landwood we are also receiving more instructions over the past few months than we have done for a year or more - instructions for properties that have sadly gone into receivership.

It is harder for property owners to let business space; for domestic landlords to find tenants… there’s no doubt there is a squeeze on.

With each failed building project, banks become more nervous to lend, builders stop building… and we fall headlong into a dreaded recession. Once we do, it’s anyone’s guess how deep it is or how long it lasts.

The blame for all of this cannot be put at the door of Brexit… well, not entirely. There is no arguing with the fact that this is a period of change - domestically and globally. People err to the negative whenever there is change on the horizon - until events transpire and the scales balance out. The big issue is uncertainty.

Property is key to all of this. Uncertainty causes negativity, while a solid market has the opposite effect. It’s true that the value of houses makes people feel wealthier - even if they have no intention of moving and their bank balance hasn’t changed by a penny as a result.

Across the UK, there are a few exceptions to the story of gloom. Where we are located in Manchester city centre, I can look out and see many cranes on the skyline as building continues apace.

Sporadic hotspots like this where investment is still happening do exist. What have they got in common? A relatively young population, a well qualified workforce that is staying put because there are jobs and a good work/life balance for them.

I’d add Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol to the list alongside Manchester - although while they may be similar in terms of positivity and buzz, their growth is more sporadic.

So, if the pointers are all correct and a recession is upon us, what’s the advice? Sit tight. Whether you are a commercial property owner or a domestic landlord, try your best to ride it out, perhaps for six months, before making any business decisions. Look at your borrowings and don’t over-stretch yourself at this time.

There are always people who benefit from downturns in the market and they tend to be cash buyers. So if you have cash to invest long-term, a ripe time to buy may be about to begin.

For the rest of us, it’s time to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm - see you on the other side.
 
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