The overriding sentiment at a regional property conference is that the property market is on a cautious road to recovery. The fifth annual Essex Property Seminar organised by Accountants & Business Advisers PKF, Ellisons Solicitors and Chartered Surveyors Fenn Wright was held again at Colchester United’s Weston Homes Community Stadium and was attended by 200 property delegates.

The keynote speaker, Phil Eckersley, The Bank of England’s Agent for East Anglia and the South East, gave an in-depth analysis of the UK economy and where East Anglia property fits into that economic environment. The seminar sets out to bring regional property professionals up to date on the state of the residential and commercial property market, tax planning and legal issues.

Over the last few years the audience feedback forms show a real-time barometer for where the market actually is. This year, when asked if businesses were feeling more positive about the property sector, optimism had risen by 20% from 50% at the same time in 2012 to an emphatic 70% for February 2013. Pessimism fell by 14.5% from 27% in 2012 down to 12.5% this year. In response to the question about potential acquisition of property over the next two years, figures have risen from 10% last year to 22.5% this year.

The conference was chaired by Guy Longhurst, Ellisons’ property partner, who reflected on a very positive year for the country last year. Lewis Chambers from Fenn Wright in Colchester said that the property market had remained remarkably stable in the last year. He underlined that first time buyer activity had increased and that agricultural land values had outperformed most other markets. He commented: “We are pleased that the feedback shows there are signs of a road to recovery for the property market and we are predicting that this will continue in 2013.”

Peter Harrup, a Partner at PKF said: “We highlighted some of the tax issues coming up, namely the changes to the higher rate tax band and the anti abuse rule which come into force at the beginning of April as well as the new share scheme. It is especially important to seek sound tax planning in the property sector at this time.”