Change and challenge affecting the property industry

In writing the introduction to Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice, I considered the wide ranging external influences that impact on the property world.

Property is an exciting sector in which to work – mainly because of the way in which it is impacted by (and influences) social, technological, political and economic change.

My analysis, written in November 2019, was as follows:


  • Rising consumer demand for housing, associated facilities and infrastructure
  • Demographic change: the rise of Generation X (the ‘experience generation) and the ‘silver tsunami’ resulting in changing expectations of housing and retail / leisure facilities
  • Social change leading to the introduction of new property assets – including co-working, pop-ups and co-living, retirement villages, an increase in student housing as a result of more young people attending university
  • Changing opinion – for example, on climate change
  • Changing consumer demands – affecting the layout and composition of residential units
  • A requirement for a greater emphasis on social responsibility and wellbeing in the built environment – such as WELL Version 2


  • General elections, local elections and pre-election purdah
  • Emerging policy – on infrastructure, industry, housing, planning and regional economic programmes such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Oxford to Cambridge Arc
  • Impact of policy reviews (Task Forces, White Papers) on sentiment
  • Political pressure – such as the requirement to meet housing targets
  • The wide ranging impact of Brexit – on issues including recruitment and retention of skills, sourcing of materials, European legislation and property values
  • Changing structures for funding affordable housing


  • Changes in legislation – for example the new fire safety standards which followed the Grenfell Tower fire and Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety
  • Reviews and updates to Building Regulations and other UK, EU and international building standards


  • The financial cycle – growth and recession
  • The financial year – annual results, financial reports
  • Lack of resources in sectors including planning and affordable housing


  • Changing requirements for sustainable initiatives; response to climate change (eg flood defences)
  • Changing environmental regulations – including Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, Energy Performance Certificates and Part L of the Building Regulations. Expectations of a move towards a circular economy in which recycling features prominently
  • Environmental lobbying by pressure groups, consumers and others


  • An ever increasing use of social media, resulting in expectations of ‘Instagramable experiences’ in aspects of the built environment (specifically retail and leisure)
  • The increase in online activism and the ability of a community to mobilise quickly over an issue of concern online
  • The increased use of proptech at all stages in development – from planning to sales and letting
  • The impact of technology on properties (wifi in the workplace, for example)

Writing this blog in ‘lockdown’ in March 2020, I am confronted by hourly news stories about how the coronavirus crisis is impacting on our industry.  Today alone, the headlines include an unprecedented instruction from Government to halt all residential property transactions; the order that no visitors are allowed into properties, including estate agents, surveyors and potential buyers; the cessation of all non-essential construction work and profit warnings from housebuilders.  The impact on the industry is immediate but also long term. Sadly many business will fail, but on a more positive note, I do believe that the industry will evolve during this crisis and find new ways of working more effectively in the future (I address this in an earlier blog).

The indisputable fact that the property industry is directly impacted by such a wide range of external factors if part of the reason why it needs effective PR.

As Alistair McCapra, Chief Executive of the CIPR says in hisForeword to be book, ‘Quite literally everyone has a stake [in property development] – the Government, landowners, large commercial building firms, foreign investors, banks, pension funds, environmentalists, local businesses and individual homeowners.  Everyone has strong feelings about the place where they live, and proposals that will have an impact on those places affect those feelings deeply.  This is the fundamental reason why property needs public relations.  While the technical and financial aspects of the property sector may lie outside most people’s interest, everyone wants to have a say about the places that matter enormously to them.’

Pre-order Promoting Property:  insight, experience and best practice today to understand more about how the key tenets of strategic public relations can enable you to understand the broader context and use this to benefit property clients.