Property & Construction Daily

The Property & Construction Daily provides a sector-specific comment from leading analyst Alastair Stewart. His daily perspective provides a round-up of market statements, news, economics and views from the property and construction sectors.

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February 13, 2024

WINK | Jobs data paints more benign picture for housing outlook, Gove pledges brownfield housebuilding boost

Company news

M Winkworth (WINK, 170p, £22m mkt cap)

Franchised estate and lettings agency, focused on London and SE. Board change. Tara Tan appointed to Board as an Executive Director with effect from 12 February. A qualified solicitor with over 20 years experience, she joined Winkworth in 2001 and became a director of Winkworth Franchising (WFL) in 2004 as Director of Legal and Business Affairs. She left the company in 2006 and re-joined in 2012 as a consultant, then in 2014 was appointed to work full time as General Counsel before re-joining the Board of WFL in 2020. She will “provide strategic and transactional guidance to the business development team and to the day-to-day commercial operations team, as well as continuing her work on brand protection, network compliance and training”.

Economic data

Employment data. Unemployment fell by more than expected and real wage rose by more in the latest batch of labour market statistics from the ONS. Unemployment fell to 3.8% in the three months to December, from a recently recalibrated 3.9% in the period to November and compared with economists’ expectations of 4.0%, and the fifth monthly decline (below, left). Y/Y nominal earnings growth, excluding bonuses, fell to 6.2%, the lowest for 14 months, but exceeding expectations of 6.0%. However, real earnings growth on the same basis rose to 1.8% from +1.5% in the three months to November. Vacancies fell for the 20th consecutive month, to 932,000, from a high of 1.3 million in May 2022, but the latest decline was the slowest yet, only 2,000. Next release, 12 March.

Viewpoint: This just might give the hawks on the Bank of England rate setting committee some ammunition to hold off cuts, but adds to the steadily more benign landscape for potential home buyers. The perceived threat or lack of it in the jobs market and value of the pound in one’s pocket have always been powerful determinants of decisions on whether or not to buy homes.

In other news …

Politics. Every council in England will need to prioritise brownfield developments and instructed to be less bureaucratic and more flexible in applying policies “turbocharge” home building on former industrial land, according to Housing Secretary Michael Gove.

Planning authorities in England’s 20 largest cities and towns will be made to follow a ‘brownfield presumption’, if housebuilding drops below expected levels. This will make it easier to get permission to build on previously developed brownfield sites, helping more young families to find a home. A consultation on these proposals launched today and will run until 26 March, and the government will look to implement these changes to national planning policy as soon as possible.

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