The property market post-Brexit

Well, who would have dreamed that the political landscape would have changed quite as furiously as it has done in the last month? After a strange period of turmoil in both main parties (still ongoing in Labour’s case), only the second female British Prime Minster is now charged with making sure dear old HMS Blighty is steered in the right direction. Good luck to Mrs May.

New governments often feel they need to stamp their authority on the situation they inherit to show that they are in control and that they mean business. This sometimes leads to unwise policy decisions. Ass far as the housing market goes, there have been no signs of anything such as a change (in either direction) on Stamp Duty – so far. Anything could happen. However, it’s to be expected that the government’s priority for the foreseeable future will be the Brexit process, for which there is no real precedent. (The EEC, as it then was, lost a large chunk of its territory in 1982 when Greenland voted to leave but it’s hard to find too many similarities between their economy and ours. It’s worth remembering, though, that even their comparatively simple exit took three years to negotiate: moreover, the Prime Minister has recently told that German Chancellor that no negotiations will start about Britain’s departure until January 2017 at the earliest. Clearly nothing, Brexit-wise, is going to happen quickly.)

Another motive for governmental intervention would have been if the markets had taken a tumble. In fact, and although the result last month caught most of the experts by surprise, this has not happened. As for foreign property owners, any alarm they might feel is most likely to affect London rather than anywhere else in the UK.

So much for the national picture. What about us in the shires and, in particular, our part of the world? Has the dust settled around us after the vote to leave the EU? Yes. Well, kind of.

We have weathered the first few weeks. For a time the market looked jittery and I was the first to admit a sense of foreboding. One sensed that people thought they were reeling from a battering and were being very stoic in the face of adversity. In reality, it was more like thinking you were about to go down with the worst case of flu, when in fact you shrugged it off in a couple of days with a few paracetamol and an early night.

Those who were buying and selling before Brexit are predominantly the same type of people who will buy and sell in the future. Where there is a need to sell or buy there will be sales. It has been this way since the Autumn of 2007. The market imploded overnight back then – I definitely knew where I was when this occurred. Sales happened albeit in very small volumes.

With a few exceptions, no one really moves these days because they fancy a change of scenery. It is far too prohibitively expensive for any of that.

So, in short, life in the property world feels pretty much as it did and we are where we were. However, as the opening credits of the popular sci-fi series of the 60s series Stingray so rightly pointed out, ”Stand by for action – anything could happen in the next half an hour!”

Jonathan Rich
Brearley & Rich


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