The year ahead: Adam Cheal of Fletcher Longstaff

Adam Cheal. Picture: Chris Vaughan Photography for Fletcher Longstaff via Distract.

Each year Lincolnshire Today Magazine invites a select panel of the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years. And, while none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been.

Here we catch up with Adam Cheal of Lincoln-based Fletcher Longstaff.

Most years in property, January takes a while to pick up. Following the rush of moving in time for Christmas, the new year often means you come back to a few new deals being done and those who didn’t quite manage to move in time for the festive season.

2020 has already proved different, we’ve come back to one of the busiest periods we’ve known. In conveyancing, business is often time-sensitive, but there’s been a sense that more stability when it comes to Brexit and a new government may have started people off on a more positive note.

This has been reflected in house prices, with London prices having leapt at the start of the year. To further compound this optimism, if inflation continues, then we could see a cut in the interest rates, but that still remains to be seen.

Within property, 2019 saw many major players investing in technology, be this new web portals, apps or ways to ease the house-buying and selling process. This is not going to stop. As the larger entities have invested, so will the smaller competitors below them.

Rumours of announcements in March’s 2020 Budget that stamp duty will be effectively reversed, meaning sellers will have to pay would certainly be interesting news this year. If it did go ahead, it would certainly have an effect of freeing up the market.

With Brexit effectively also out of the way towards the end of the month, confidence appears to be taking over the majority of the industry, from consumers to builders. We envision that those squeezed by more competition, for example, high street estate agents, will likely slim down there operations. This could mean less brick and mortar shopfronts, fewer estate agents with lettings departments and lower fees. In recent years, fees have been 1% or 2% of sales. From this year we can expect to see either 1% or fixed fees take hold.

While there is never a perfect time in the property market, the signs are that 2020 may well be turning into one of the most interesting already. In the East Midlands in particular, we are likely to see more planning granted to mixed housing on greenbelt land or as extensions to existing conurbations.

Inward investment is going to be more and more important as we leave Europe too. There’s a sense that 2020 could well be one of the busiest years in property yet. Those prepared are the ones that will prosper this year, for those buying a home, be it for living or investment, timing could well be everything.