Real estate advisor Jones Lang LaSalle held its economic and property market seminar at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester on Tuesday.
Speakers at the event included Stephanie McMahon, head of UK research at Jones Lang LaSalle, who outlined the prospects for the UK economy and Ian Thomlinson, head of residential development and investment in Manchester gave an overview of the North West residential market.
McMahon said: "Recent economic data has been mixed, showing continuing strength in business surveys and industrial production, reasonably robust labour markets, weakness in consumer sentiment and a large fall in construction output.
"Markets await the preliminary estimate of Q1 gross domestic product on 27 April for signs of a rebound following the surprise -0.6% decline in Q4 growth. A robust bounce would increase the likelihood of a May interest rate increase by the Bank of England; a disappointing figure could delay the start of the tightening cycle to the summer.
"Clearly there is still volatility in the UK economy and the confidence of consumers, who have seen their spending power squeezed, remains weak. Consumer spending and confidence tends to lag the rest of our economy by 12 to 18 months, and so we anticipate more growth in retail sales from 2012-13."
Looking at the outlook for the North West's residential land market, Thomlinson added: "Since the start of 2010 we have seen 30 significant land transactions contracted or completed in the North West worth a total of £130m. The drivers however that you would associate with growth for the housing market, such as mortgage availability and consumer confidence, are not present at the moment therefore we expect land values to remain broadly stable over the next two years. In the short term, any growth in sales values is likely to be swallowed up by increased build costs.
"Currently, there is limited activity in the North West land market with volume house builders and medium sized regional private companies with good levels of funding most active. Going forward we anticipate vendors will seek to utilise more innovative deal structures to capture overage and profit share."