Members of the UK’s largest network of independent commercial property agents were advised this week to anticipate a ‘long haul’ recovery by RICS Chief Economist, Simon Rubinsohn, in what he believes is a pivotal moment for the economy.

Property Agents Independent (PAI), which brings together 30 UK practices, held its annual conference on Tuesday.  Cheffins, which is a part of the PAI network, joined the online conference with around 90 professionals from other property firms to discuss the future of the commercial market.                                                                                                      

The virtual conference included the latest economic update from Simon Rubinsohn on the outlook for commercial property in the aftermath of Covid.  In the retail and office sectors Rubinsohn expects to see falls in capital and rental values, contrasting with some strong prospects for growth in the industrial market as the UK takes a leading role in online retail.

Rubinsohn identified affordability issues as an ongoing concern for the UK housing market but believes the sector will see more in the way of new development activity than commercial sectors in the short to medium term.

Philip Woolner, joint Managing Partner at Cheffins, said: “Over 60 per cent of PAI members reported that levels of market activity in their respective regions has been higher than expected since the outbreak of coronavirus and this has certainly been in line with our experience at Cheffins. Since March we have seen much stronger than anticipated levels of transactions across most sectors of the market. In addition, in a poll at the conference, the majority view was that office occupiers longer term would reduce their space requirements by only around 10 – 15 per cent.  This is interesting as it is not as drastic a shift as many were predicting at the outset of the pandemic, when the office sector appeared in freefall with the rise in working from home. In fact, this gives us confidence in the future of the requirements for the office sector and can help us to forecast steady take up rates throughout the region over the coming months.”

“Being part of the national network of PAI gives Cheffins a wider market perspective across the whole UK, and a network of contacts in different geographical areas and in different specialist disciplines – this enables our clients to benefit from a wider reach and access to other top quality local specialists and niche areas such as capital allowances, environmental consultancy and with our latest new member, port and quayside property.”

For further information on the PAI Conference, or for general advice on the commercial property market, contact