UK property professionals are divided on whether Donald Trump can win today’s US election – but most think a victory for the Republican candidate would fuel uncertainty in the financial markets.
According to last night’s polls Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton is ahead, with a CBS News poll putting her in front by 45% to 41% and a Monmouth University poll giving her an advantage by 50% to 44%.
But the Brexit vote in June proved that polls aren’t everything and some professionals will follow the election tonight with a sense of trepidation.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, is worried about the impact a Trump victory would have on the UK.
He said: “A Trump victory would add to any uncertainty and have an impact not only on the housing market but on the stock market and the value of sterling.
“There’s no doubt the long gestation period of the US election means decision-making is frozen, particularly when the result is so close to call and the voting date is imminent.
“The impact on sterling and the FTSE inevitably has an impact on confidence here at a time when we’re already nervously anticipating the fall-out from Brexit.
“At the very least it looks like we will have fewer transactions, tighter lending criteria, less housebuilding and higher rents – which is exactly the opposite of what we’re looking for at the moment.”
Kate Faulkner, property analyst and owner of Designs on Property, reckons the global markets would be ‘spooked’ by a Trump win.
But she doesn’t think the outcome would necessarily be a disaster for the UK property market.
She said: “The worst thing for the housing market is uncertainty. Will Mr Trump bring certainty to the economy? Probably not, so if he gets in world markets could be spooked.
“That will either help Britain be seen as more of a safe haven or spook our economy too.
“If Hilary gets in then I imagine not much will change!”
However she doesn’t think the UK should be too worried.
She added: “Our housing market was hurt during the credit crunch but that doesn’t seem to have dented the UK’s love of all things property.
“It has recovered in most places barring oversold city centre flats.
“We just all need to get used to property prices and rents going up, down and staying the same and the new world uncertainty that goes with it.
“For homeowners it doesn’t matter so much nor for renter; only investors are the ones who this affects and Darwin will take care of them.
“The good ones will do well – amateurs and risk takers probably won’t.”
Lee Grandin, owner of buy-to-let brokerage Landlord Mortgages and B2B platform Lend2Landlord, thinks Trump has a chance of pulling off a shock win.
He said: “It’s Brexit all over again but on a larger scale.
“When we are fed up we generally become highly motivated to make a change.
“It doesn’t just take an election to enthuse the public to make an ‘against the odds’ decision, it can be simply Honey G in the X-factor.
“When fed up the human has an incredible ability to make an ‘against the odds’ decision and that will always unnerve those who are trying to bet on them.
“Financial markets don’t like the Honey G’s of the world so a Trump card tomorrow may not be what they want but I don’t think the general public care.”
However with the FBI clearing Clinton of any criminal charges over her emails Richard Hanlon, principal at Mortgage Planners in Dundee, can’t see undecided voters siding with the controversial Trump.
He said: “I really can’t see Trump winning now; any undecided voters really can’t vote for Trump, the unknown is just too scary.”
While he fears more instability in the financial markets he doesn’t think the news across the pond dwarfs the uncertainties closer to home.
He added: “I can’t see any short-term impact on the UK housing market.
“We need continued stability – we’re not even out of Europe yet and that is more likely to impact on the UK housing market compared to the US election regardless of which candidate wins.”
Paul Brett, business development director at Foundation Home Loans, agrees.
He said: “We’ve got our own issues to deal with regarding Brexit.
“I can’t see it swaying financial confidence in our financial market too much either way. We are in our own little bubble at the moment.
“You can talk about these big macro things but in the buy-to-let space there aren’t enough roofs.
”Does it change much on the ground in the market I’m in? No.”
In May Trump said leaving the EU won’t put Britain “at the back of the queue”, as outgoing President Barack Obama warned before the EU referendum.
Brett therefore wonders whether the UK would do well out of Republican nominee being elected.
He added: “When you think of Donald Trump as president the reaction is ‘goodness me’.
“But he doesn’t seem to have the attitude that the UK will fall down the pecking order.”