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What a year 2017 has turned out to be!

A surprise general election, politics dominated by the dreaded Brexit factor, fake news Trump and his  game of Russian roulette with North Korea, the 1st interest rise in the UK for 10 years, etc. For the property market, 2017 was certainly a bumpy ride, with demand for property falling and rising rather like a yo-yo during the year as political and economic uncertainty ebbed and flowed. At the start of the year the Bank of England predicted 2017 inflation of 2.7% and growth of 0.8%. The latest figures show CPI inflation at 3% and growth of 0.4% 

The latest RICS Commercial Market Survey for Q3 shows occupier demand rising from -2% in Q2 to +5% in Q3, with the industrial/distribution sector remaining strong, whilst retail continues to struggle as High Street sales figures fell at the fastest rate since 2009. Demand for investment property continues to be lively, as evidenced by national auctions in October, when Alsop recorded its biggest sale since 2006, raising £147.1m in sales, a 77% success rate. Some of the yields for property investments look rather skinny in my eyes, at 3% for a Texaco garage in Golders Green, 4.8% for a Peacocks store in Dorchester and 5.4% from a Marks & Spencer store in Bishop's Stortford. Acuitus managed similar success in their October auction, raising  £ an 82% success rate, with similarly skinny yields, such as 5.36% gross on WH Smiths shop in Bury St Edmunds. 

So where are we heading for 2018? Possibly more same, which makes predictions well-nigh impossible! If ever the politicians managed to make a meaningful any meaningful progress on Brexit, which is doubtful, or should a miracle happen and we come out with a reasonable deal on free trade, without a ridiculous divorce bill, there could be a market surge.  However, I can't see any deal happening until the last minute in 2019 and fear we may end up with a typical EU fudge – so my best guess is more ups and downs for 2018. In Swindon, we are last seeing some speculative development, with new industrial/warehouse development proposed for Hillmead, and a 270,000 ft.² distribution building under construction at Symmetry Park, hopefully following on from the success of the recent Honda deal on 402,000 ft.² at South Marston. A speculative small office scheme planned in the Old Town area.  So as we end 2017, there are reasons to be cheerful!