As the world deals with the Covid-19 outbreak, the property industry and the UK economy more generally face a period of uncertainty. Specialising in residential property development and regeneration in strategic locations in the UK and Spain, we have a proven track record of being able to adapt to situations very quickly. The company was still in its infancy when the global financial crisis hit in 2008, but rather than panic, our team saw an opportunity.
We recognised how hard it was for young professionals to get on the housing ladder, especially in the South East of England, and for more than a decade have addressed this need through our developments. Key to delivering this is our criteria for identifying opportunities in the UK property market. This includes price, but also connectivity to London, any local regeneration vision in the wider area, local authorities proactively driving improvements in their communities. We also look at other factors that would be attractive to our target market – from work opportunities and help to buy schemes to retail and leisure facilities.
Our developments to date show how our strategy in selecting the areas in which we develop has proved a winning one. City Tower in Reading, for example, has set a new standard for development in the town. Offering one and two bedroom apartments, many with balconies and all with access to a private landscaped courtyard, it is the highest residential building in Reading. City Tower is only a five-minute walk to the newly redeveloped train station, which makes it an ideal location for those working in London, but unable to afford the costs of living in the capital. The value of the development is evident, having achieved a strong capital growth of 50% in the two years following launch.
Our two major developments in Stratford – Olympic Apartments and Stratford Apartments – both offer contemporary and spacious living. The 2012 Olympic Games acted as a catalyst for regeneration in the surrounding area, receiving £12.5bn of private and public sector investment. These developments have played a big part of this ongoing transformation. Located only 20 minutes from central London, the apartments are attractively priced, for first time buyers, and have provided an excellent return on investment. For example, with an average sale price of £380,000 for a two bedroom apartment in 2012, the average resale price in 2015 was £620,000, meaning the Stratford Apartments have enjoyed a capital growth of 63%.
Located in the trendy Northern Quarter of Manchester, One Smithfield Square encompasses one, two and three bedroom apartments with balconies and terraces offering great views of the city. Our first investment in the North West, the project perfectly illustrates where the company has identified an investment opportunity and responded to demand. One Smithfield Square also kick-started the transformation of the surrounding area. Rental demand has remained strong, with prices increasing by 15% even during the Brexit period.
Looking ahead to the future, GRE Assets intends to come out of the Covid-19 crisis stronger thanks to its strict development criteria and continued desire to work closely with local authorities to both identify and deliver on local housing need, especially where there are shortages. We will continue to strive to achieve our ambition of becoming the UK market leader for high quality, affordable and well connected living for young professionals.
We remain confident in the resilience of the UK property market, especially as affordable property is also a strategic choice for investment – in a good economy there is a strong demand from young professionals and equally when the economy is struggling it is an option for those wishing to downsize or rent.
There is also no doubt the coronavirus lockdown will have a lasting impact in terms of people’s expectations. With many people having to adapt to working remotely, in the future our homes will also have to adapt through superfast WiFi and space to comfortably work from home. GRE Asset has already considered this, with the installation of hyperoptic broadband at their Brighton Marina and Riverside Park schemes, but expects this to be mirrored more widely across the board among UK developers.
GRE Assets is a property investment company with major residential schemes in the UK and Spain.