Housebuilding is Out for Lunch - Virtually
As the sun sets on another glorious day we can reflect on what will be a different dining out experience for most in the housebuilding sector. But for coronavirus, today the industry great and good would have been gathering in numbers to raise a glass and recognise best in class at the annual Homes for Scotland Awards lunch which we are always pleased to sponsor.
The event has been postponed until November, so we shall meet again but for now the focus remains very much on how quickly housebuilders can safely resume construction on sites to turn work-in-process into much-needed balance sheet revenues - and in doing so begin to resurrect the construction industry. The impact on the wider economy of the lockdown is yet to be seen and will dictate the speed of recovery and the climb back out of the Covid19-induced recession.
Homes for Scotland continues to play a key role liaising with Scottish Government and providing the key facts and industry views that are critical to ensuring that the Government can strike the right balance in its decision making between public safety and mitigating economic damage as it charts a way out of the lockdown restrictions.
A united collective view is hugely important in achieving the best outcome in this regard. The industry needs a champion at this critical time, and Homes for Scotland, led admirably by Nicola Barclay, have worked tirelessly and stepped up to the plate to help introduce emergency measures to resolve issues created by lockdown and push for measures that will allow construction sites to re-open.
We are seeing a range of forecasts on what happens next and what the market will bear. There are lessons learned from past recessions that will no doubt be put to good use, and there is much encouragement to be taken from the fact that unlike previous recessions the banking system is not fundamentally broken. Some housebuilders have managed to continue to achieve sales during lockdown and there is evidence of the increased importance of digital platforms to help facilitate that.
In consequence, confidence can and should return more quickly than previously if we can avoid a significant second wave of the pandemic. There is a plan designed to achieve that which should be fleshed out further to provide much-needed clarity over the next week or two.
As a business we are already reflecting on what will change post Covid-19. Will virtual drinks, coffees and e-meetings on Microsoft Teams and Zoom become the norm? For a while yet undoubtedly, and we will see new and more efficient ways of working evolve. A digital system of land registration is frankly overdue and will be one of the positive outcomes. Businesses will emerge more robust and pandemic proof in many respects.
So we can expect a storm to be weathered after the current sunny spell, but the underlying fundamentals of the housing market remain strong and should see us through a few rainy days. Housing will remain in short supply. Normal order will eventually be restored and we will meet again at the Homes for Scotland lunch to toast all that is good about the sector.
Until then dining out will have to involve lighting the barbeque and groups of no more than eight persons two metres apart….
1st April 2021
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How can housebuilders mitigate the risk of rising costs and shortages of construction materials?
31st March 2021
Housing to 2040 and what it means for the delivery of 20 Minute Neighbourhoods.