UK Affordable Housing Market Update | June 2024

Market Insight

Market update

  • The wait for CPI to fall to target is over, with the May 2% result meeting economist expectations. Will CPI hold at this level, will we now see interest rate cuts?
  • Higher than expected service inflation (5.7%) led the market to dial back bets on interest rate cuts in 2024. The service economy continues to resist higher interest rates and until there is a meaningful change in this trend, interest rate cuts will likely be delayed.
  • The market expectation for SONIA in 2025/26 and 2026/27 is 10 bps and 20 bps lower than a month ago respectively. It is higher for longer in 2024, with a steep fall priced in through 2025 to c. 4% later in 2026.
  • Swap and gilt curves for 10 and 30 year are down 25 and 20 bps respectively on a month ago. Gilt yields combined with tight spreads look appealing, despite a c. 10 bps tick up in spreads from the lows a month ago.

Implications for clients

  • We may wait a little longer for the first rate cut but there is a little more headroom in June business plans with forward SONIA down for 2025/26 and 2026/27. Locking in that fall could be attractive unless hedging ratios are already at the upper end of policy range.
  • Bookrunners continue to suggest modest premium on sub-benchmark issuance for good credit, and investor demand for medium-term notes is more than sufficient to meet supply leading to attractive spreads. Housing Associations have a wide range of DCM funding options, and an unusually low cost of carry thanks to high short-term rates.
  • With the election looming there is a chance of domestically driven volatility. The global financial system continues to adjust to higher bond yields and there is always a chance of further shocks as we saw in 2023 with the various bank failures. It makes a lot of sense for Housing Associations to avoid delay in locking in cost of capital and funding for fresh investment plans.

Recent client activity

At Centrus, we are actively developing hedging strategies and participating in business planning and assurance engagements for our housing clients. Recent activities include:

  1. Business planning and assurance engagements: Centrus recently worked with Capital Letters, providing their Board with confidence and assurance that their business plan was founded on informed assumptions and driven by a best-in-class model.
  2. Investment policy reviews: Investment policy reviews are a recent common trend, with a focus for some of the best way to look after significant chunks of cash post asset disposal or capital raise. Beyond paying down RCF, we have focussed on money market funds.

To learn more about our work in the affordable housing sector, click here.

For more information, please contact Paul Stevens or John Tattersall.