Category Archives: News

MFE in 2024

What has MFE been up to in the last year?

All Manor of Property – of course!

In 2023, MFE set up Manor Farm Estates Stroud Surveys as a subsidiary dealing with house surveys. The location for this service is restricted to the immediate surrounding area of Stroud and the Five Valleys. We now have a webpage on this site detailing the new offer.

In 2024, it is anticipated that MFE will concentrate more on strategic land. MFE has a new link with tax experts who can advise on inheritance, SDLT and company structures for landowners.

Our prediction for the market in 2024 is, unfortunately, on the gloomy side as interest rates remain high and uncertainty continues with this being a year of elections – not least both in the UK and the USA. There may be a small market bounce of optimism later in the year, as the government tries to ease economic matters in an attempt to secure re-election. This may then feed into a slightly better feel about property transactions but, as these are usually long-term commitments, I don’t think it will be an important factor. Interest rates remain high as compared to recent times and this depresses the market across the board, including all property types.

In the planning world, the new NPPF provisions have reinforced the importance of Local Plans so that landowners should engage in this process.  A major issue – which MFE can again assist upon – is the question of viability which will eventually be tested in every new local Plan. The implementation of BNG (Biodiversity Net Gain) is a further cost implication for this process.

Good luck for 2024! It is likely to be a bumpy ride!

Coronavirus Impact On The Market 2020

I’m writing this in April 2020 but, in January 2018 this blog wrote:

“Some people active in the industry have forgotten 2008. After all, it is now 10 years ago, so some in the industry were not even working then. However, some older heads really should know better about the cyclical nature of the industry. How about 1981, 1989 and even before that, 1973? Each has been a crash which was unforeseen. It is very difficult to see what particular straw will bring it all crashing down.”

Then later:

“There will be one identified apocryphal trigger for sure. I wonder what it will be?- Let’s hope it does not come in 2018 but, be in no doubt it will come for sure-it is just a matter of time.”

Are you wishing yet you had taken more notice of this blog? The crash came in March 2020.

Well none of us foresaw the Coronavirus and the dramatic impact it would have upon the world economy – let alone the housing market in this country. This has not been an apocryphal event but an actual dystopian event beyond imagination. However, if you had taken stock back in 2018 of your property holdings you would have done well to exit the market or re-organise your portfolio of holdings.

Where are we now? Student housing, retail, co-working offices all seem in the dumps from a property perspective. Shops in the High Street, (non-food) cafes and restaurants seem dire. Gym and leisure properties are closed. Who would want to start delivering sheltered housing development schemes now?  These have proven to be very susceptible to virus transmission. There may be some winners in terms of industrial warehouse distribution for food supplies. On line retail purchases will continue to rise so that the last mile distribution depots will be more popular. Possibly out of town retail might perform more readily with the new distancing rules for public gatherings.

What about housing? This depends crucially upon the availability of finance and this is likely to dip as the economy enters such a major downturn. Some talk of a v shape return to economic prosperity but,  this is beginning to look like wishful thinking or, a Donald Trump election promise. As the close-down continues and unemployment rises there will be less money around in the hands of individuals to finance major house purchases. The banks are not helping as they maintain their ridiculous interest rates in the face of them having access to free Government cash and base rate at 0.1%. Hopefully, they will be punished eventually.

What’s to be done? Obviously, there will be “bottom fishers” around to look to acquire property from those in distress. It’s a good time to be such a fisher! But, this will not be a v shape economic bounce. The downturn will last a few years at least. So, plan your property moves with an eye to the future. Perhaps 2023 or 2024 will be the years to be back close to normal. The Olympics in Paris 2024 might signal a beacon for a new happier time for all.  Meantime and, as I said in 2018, please get in touch if you want any property advice across the board. We have the expertise and the contacts to help you whatever your problem may be – and maybe a little bit of a crystal ball too! Take notice this time at least!

MFE in 2019

What has MFE been up to this year?

All Manor of Property – of course!


for 50 residential units alongside a railway line in the West Country. Interesting contract
involving a top up on sale of units to maximise the eventual sale receipt to the landowner
whilst giving the purchaser some protection from possible market volatility.

relating to a possible dilapidations claim at the end of a lease. Negotiating the terms for the
quitting of the lease where the tenant has held over from the end of the lease date.

for a prospective buyer. Area restricted to Southern England.

for a client that wishes to take out options on land. Focus on Southern England.

for a small investor. Examples considered include office to residential or larger houses to be
converted to flats. Area restricted to Birmingham area and further south.

suitable for residential development or other uses in Coseley near Dudley in the West

If you have suitable sites or properties that meet some of the above requirements or property that has similar problems please contact MFE. Anything to do with property, we can assist you!

MFE Hits £2 million

Within the last few months MFE has achieved sales of just under £2M acting for Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council in carrying forward its programme of surplus asset disposals. Sales have included former care homes as well as disused youth and community centres. In some cases premises have been vacant for years and these will now be re-developed for new uses and new housing so boosting the local economy.

The service includes full valuation, planning assessment, technical assessments, marketing, bid assessment as well as liaison and instruction with solicitors to see the sales through. Not to mention dealing with the buyers!

Should your Council need similar assistance on asset disposals do not hesitate to contact MFE

2018- Is it the start of a Down-turn for the Housing market?

Some people active in the industry have forgotten 2008. After all, it is now 10 years ago, so some in the industry were not even working then. However, some older heads really should know better about the cyclical nature of the industry. How about 1981, 1989 and even before that, 1973? Each has been a crash which was unforeseen. It is very difficult to see what particular straw will bring it all crashing down.

What are the reasons for the current “good picture” to continue? It must be the need for housing compared to the supply. However, it is easily arguable that these are not matched at all. There is a need for proper affordable housing which would be described as social rent housing, but, who is going to build that? Certainly not the private sectors as returns are very low and long term. It is a job for Local Authorities but they are not allowed to borrow to build and they haven’t got the skill base either. Meanwhile, Housing Associations pretend to build affordable housing at affordable rents which are not really affordable at all and develop shared equity sale homes which lock people into the market at unsustainable levels.

How about the favourable planning regime? Well, certainly it is somewhat easier to get planning these days after the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) but, not so easy to sort out conditions, CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy), and deal with all the environmental matters that now apply from Badgers to crayfish and innumerable other critters! So, start on site can be delayed as planning officers are under tremendous pressure to deal with these “minor matters” which don’t attract large fees.

How about the finance side? Money is available now it seems. Or, is it? Where is the small builder sector that provided variety to housing schemes? The reality is that large deposits are still required to borrow money. The returns are not available after finance charges to make the risk of speculative, small scale house building worthwhile in practice. Cheap land, which was the bedrock of that small scale industry, no longer exists as most landowners are now properly advised.

So, where is the straw that brings it tumbling down? The removal of “Help to Buy” perhaps? Rising interest rates, which the USA can seem to plan for as the Trump economy booms along for now? Scandals as house builder directors pocket millionaire sized bonus schemes? The re-direction of HA funds to deal with fire protection rather than new build schemes? Maybe an acceptance from large swathes of the millennial population that home ownership is not for them- unlike previous generations? The election of a left wing “Corbynista” government perhaps?

In practice it will be a combination but, there will be one identified apocryphal trigger for sure. I wonder what it will be? Let’s hope it does not come in 2018 but, be in no doubt it will come for sure-it is just a matter of time. Prepare your strategy for dealing with it while the sun still shines!

For advice or guidance on any of the strategies or issues outlined in the article, contact us, MFE can help you prepare!

Government White Paper to fix the housing crisis – what wasn’t in it that should have been?

As reported recently in the Telegraph the Government has published a White Paper which details new proposals to support the housing  sector and address some of its dysfunctional problems. Unfortunately, the Paper has misssed the opportunity to fundamentally address the real issues. The Telegraph article sets out matters which should have been addressed.

The key points are:

It hasn’t dealt with: the small house building sector; the five year supply of housing land (see picture below); no assistance for older people to downsize from a large family home to a smaller house; poor attempt to deal with affordability for first time buyers; no new initiative on council house building.


Report: Boost Housing Numbers by Cutting Red Tape

A new report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF), published yesterday, highlights how small and medium sized housebuilders are facing significant obstacles to their businesses in the form of unnecessary red tape. It is estimated that at least 25,000 more new homes could be built every year if current regulations were to be relaxed.

There is particular concern that it is has become difficult for new housebuilding companies to grow to any significant size, in contrast to larger housebuilders who are seeing their growth hold steady. In order to increase new housing numbers to a level meeting government targets, the report says that small and medium sized housebuilders must grow at a faster rate – particularly since the vast increase in the number of new homes being built over the last decade has been almost entirely due to expansion by larger housebuilders.

Various recommendations are made in the report, including using Brexit as an opportunity to reform regulations on housebuilding, making it simpler to build new homes quickly.

Source: Property Investor Today

8 December 2016 – House Prices Rise as Supply Fails to Match Demand Growth

A gauge of U.K. house prices rose to a seven-month high in November as the supply of properties for sale failed to keep up with a moderate increase in demand. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said its index rose to 30, the strongest reading since April, and that “supply shortages remain a constraining feature” in the market. Respondents to its monthly survey expect prices across the country to rise in the coming three months, but were less confident about London’s prospects because of tax changes. Britain’s economy has performed better than expected since the June vote to leave the European Union, and mortgage approvals rose to a seven-month high in October. However, the Bank of England warned last month that the outlook is uncertain, and RICS said a slowdown in transaction activity may indicate that the current strength in the housing market may not last. A net 13 percent of surveyors reported a rise in new buyer inquiries last month, near a record low. The ongoing supply shortfall, with stock levels around historic lows, and the myriad of tax changes impacting on buyers suggest that any pick-up in activity will be relatively modest,” said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist. “This is significant not just for the housing market itself but also for the wider economy given how much of consumer spending is tied in with home purchases.”