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With the first signs of spring (!) comes the question in the minds of most UK property watchers — both new and experienced, here and overseas — “Will 2018 be the year to Buy, Hold or Sell?”

Whilst most people would agree that the UK property market operates under different rules from the rest of the economy, recent research has revealed just how important the property sector is to UK Plc. According to Savills, amongst others, property assets account for half of the UK’s value – currently £5 trillion (£5,000,000,000,000).

Interestingly, according to land registry statistics the value of annual property transactions is more than £250 billion (£250,000,000,000). In February alone there were over 110,000 transactions — part of the 16.5 million registered titles in England and Wales.

This amounts to about 5% of the total stock, but as 50% of the property in those countries remains in the hands of the aristocracy, the Crown, the Duchy of Cornwall, the landed gentry, various government departments (particularly the Ministry of Defence) and the Church of England Commissioners — which in the main is not bought nor sold from one decade to the next — you realise that the “market” is in fact a relatively small fraction of the total value owned.

When combined with the fact that GDP per capita in the UK equates to about £12,000 per person — compared to £4500 per person in China and £24,000 per person in the US — the most fascinating statistical questions post-Brexit will be: (i) will be the total value of UK property rise or fall and (ii) will economic output per person go up or down?

At present no one knows what is going to happen from 2019 onwards and all economic forecasts are probably best treated as not being worth the paper that they are written on — unless and until they can be validated with hindsight.

However, that is no reason for inaction by small and micro business proprietors – battening down the hatches is a hackneyed cliché but it’s probably wise to carry out some sort of personal and business analysis looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats going forward fairly soon.

My property colleagues and I have formed One Silk Road Property Investment and Development Group and are putting together a directory of handy hints, top tips and useful property contacts that will hopefully be available from mid-April.

If you would like to receive a copy of One Silk Road (free for individuals) please email me on: tonyh@hsllaw.co.uk.

And remember, as someone famous once said: “The pessimist sees difficulties in every opportunity: the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

Tony Houghton