Savills trading up from 2022 predictions, ahead of pre-Covid-19 period

Savills has announced that for 2022, it will produce figures “substantially ahead” of pre-Covid 2019 results, despite the wider economic slowdown.

In a trading statement following the end of its financial year on 31 December, the agency said the company’s consultancy and property management work underpinned its overall performance.

It added that in the transactional businesses, the rapid rise in debt costs has been a significant issue with which commercial investment markets have had to come to terms. This, together with inflationary pressures globally, has also reduced the volume of leasing transactions, although in a number of markets the drive for sustainability has ensured that Grade A office activity, in particular, has remained robust.

The speed with which investment markets are recalibrating to the current cost of capital varies based on geographical location; however, Savills anticipate the challenges to commercial transaction volumes will remain significant through at least the first half of 2023.

One highlight in the year has been the relative strength of the prime residential market, which undoubtedly continued stronger for longer than we originally anticipated and helped mitigate the effect of volume declines in commercial transaction activity. Savills anticipate that the abnormally high UK transaction volumes of the “post-lockdown” market will reverse in 2023 as the market normalises to the prevailing economic environment.

This is likely to be particularly notable in markets outside London. The international nature of the prime London market, lower dependence upon mortgage financing relative to the wider markets and attractive valuations in a global context, should partially mitigate the effect of volume reductions in the residential market overall.

The investment management business traded in line with Savills’ expectations although deployment of capital was inevitably reduced given the uncertain market conditions and valuation adjustments have reduced performance fee income year-on-year. The majority of the effect of quarterly portfolio valuation adjustments is, however, likely to be felt in 2023, particularly on base management fees which represent the overwhelming majority of revenue in this business.

Discretionary costs (travel, entertainment and marketing events), which reduced significantly during the pandemic, have increased overall in line with the agency’s expectations as marketing activity and travel resumed post-pandemic. Meanwhile employment costs have increased as anticipated.

In the year ahead, challenging macro conditions are expected to continue with inflation and interest rates remaining in focus for some time. As a result, the speed at which individual investment markets recalibrate to the current/anticipated cost of debt is unclear although we expect portfolio valuations to continue to mark to market through at least the first and second quarters of 2023. On the positive side, certain markets, such as the UK, are recalibrating faster than in the past, and will be helped by the lack of development supply and an overall trend to sustainability.

It follows that, at this stage, predictions for the full year are characterised by a wide range of possible outcomes; Savills believe that H1 2023 will be more challenging than its 2022 comparative; however, the firm expects progressive improvement through the second half of the year.

Savills intends to report 2022 full year results on 16 March 2023.



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