The Landlord Investment Show returned to London Olympia on 5th November, kick-started with an opening debate featuring a panel of guests including Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, moderated by broadcaster and journalist Andrew Neil.
Entitled “The Fireworks of Brexit”, the opening panel attracted many attendees, all seeking expert commentary on the likely outcome of the impending general election, as well as the potential scenarios for Brexit in the coming months.
Andrew Neil and Iain Duncan Smith were joined in the discussion by Gavin Fraser, managing director of High Street Residential; Tony Gimple, founder of Less Tax 4 Landlords, and David Smith, Sunday Times economics editor and Property Notify columnist.
This week’s London event attracted over 5,000 attendees, with more than 100 property sector professionals exhibiting businesses on a number of stands, representing businesses from across the UK property sector.
There were also over 40 seminars, covering subjects including taxation, investment strategies and updates on changes within the housing market – all things of the utmost importance to investors and businesses operating in the property sector.
The London event came just a day before Parliament was formally dissolved, as the UK gears up for its third general election in four years, to be held on 12th December. MPs agreed to a December snap election, after the EU agreed to extend Article 50 until January 2020.
Politics dominates the debate
Discussion in the opening debate for the London Olympia-based event was unsurprisingly dominated by talk of the UK’s political situation, with voters set to go to the polls for a fresh general election, barely two years after the nation last went to the polls. Andrew Neil set the ball rolling, asking the panel whether the election was an unnecessary gamble for the government to make.
Iain Duncan Smith believed that if the Conservatives were returned to power with a full majority, Brexit proceedings would be resolved quickly.
The former Conservative leader said: “This election is more stark than any time in my political life. I think the issues are bigger, more important and bolder than have ever been in an election since I’ve been around, arguably since the early days of Thatcher.”
Economics editor David Smith added: “It’s worth remembering that a Conservative leader has not won a comfortable majority since Margaret Thatcher for over 30 years. The last one was Margaret Thatcher, in 1987.”
The columnist continued: “It’s a challenge, even with somebody [Boris Johnson] as well known and somebody who is less unpopular than Jeremy Corbyn.” He concluded that the outcome of the election would depend on where Brexit Party support would go nationally, remarking that support for the party had dropped significantly since the summer.
After some time discussing Brexit and the election, one audience member watching the opening panel was keen for the panel to bring the discussion back to how it was all relevant to the property market, and what the impact would be.
Andrew Neil responded to the audience member, saying “You can’t decide the impact until you tell us what you think the outcome will be”, reflecting just how many possible outcomes there are to the current political situation, weighing on the minds of those operating in the property sector.
Time to act
Speaking exclusively to Property Notify after the debate, Tony Gimple claimed that, despite the UK still having to undergo a transition period, even if it has left the EU in January 2020, that the Brexit process wouldn’t have to be necessarily dragged out or excessively long.
Mr Gimple clarified: “It’ll be done very quickly. Once we get a Tory majority, the Leave bill will go through – once it goes through, it’ll be a matter of months, and we’ll get our sovereignty back.”
Looking to the future, Mr Gimple gave a prediction, saying: “We’ll get into the last week of campaigning, and it will be very polarised, very polarised in the fact that we’ll probably get a Tory landslide, but Labour will be wiped out in a number of seats.”
Reflecting on the London Olympia event as a whole, Mr Gimple was keen for attendees to come away with a new understanding about what it means to be a landlord, emphasising the fact that a large proportion of landlords provide properties in the private rented sector (PRS) as a full-time occupation, with this service often being their sole source of income.
Mr Gimple said: “Now is a time to act. Look at what you’re doing as a business”, before adding: “This is a great time to start out a business. This is not about investing in property. We have to change the language and tone of the debate. This is a business – invest in your business!”.
Getting on with it
Following the opening panel, Property Notify explored the wide array of business stands on display, attracting a large number of attendees. They did so, conveying a sense of optimism and presenting new and innovative ways of working within the UK property market, despite Brexit and the impending general election.
Jeni Browne, sales director at Mortgages for Business, claimed that people were returning to the market, impatient to make transactions. Ms Browne claimed: “What we’ve seen is people holding off making decisions because they want some certainty about the future. What we’ve also seen is people coming back to the market because they’re so sick of waiting.”
Ms Browne added: “Those really savvy investors are thinking, well actually, the house prices are really good and I’m going to invest anyway and be done with it.”
Mortgages for Business, which has been in operation since the late-1990s, comprises a team of 22 mortgage advisors who work with landlords, home-buyers, business-owners and property developers, specialising particularly in areas including commercial investments and development finance, as well as specialist buy-to-lets, limited companies, and HMOs, to name a few.
Packing a punch
Baya Financial was another business present at the London event on Tuesday. Founder Jackie Houguez-Simmons told Property Notify that this week’s event was this specialist mortgage broker’s third time on display at an event in London Olympia, and that they had previously exhibited themselves before, at events in the Midlands and Manchester.
Miss Houguez-Simmons described Baya Financial as a female-led brokerage which “packs quite a punch.” She added that “The presence of women in an area where it’s actually very low, both from landlords and from the finance side, is something that really needs addressing, because the emotional and listening side of the female is very complimentary to this area.”
A significant amount of Baya Financial’s work is often done with first-time landlords, with Miss Houguez-Simmons claiming: “We’ve had everybody, from lords and ladies, right down to very-first green-behind-the-ears investors, and we take them all the way through to completion.”
Addressing great shifts in the housing market including Brexit and Section 21, Miss Houguez-Simmons revealed: “We’re as buoyant as we’ve ever been. Finance is cyclical, so there’s always going to be something that causes some trouble.”
Miss Houguez-Simmons showed great optimism, despite the various hurdles that investors could face, saying: “We’re a hardcore thick-skinned lot, and if you’re in it for the long-term, which property has to be…Section 21 is just another thing that we’ll get over, because you have to. You find a way round it.”