Property market remains strong despite Brexit predictions

Michael Lloyd

October 22, 2018

The UK property market remains strong and defiant despite damning pre-Brexit predictions about the impact of the vote to leave, an analysis from estate agent haart has found.

The research compared the Treasury’s “cautious” economic forecast for the two years following the vote to leave published in May 2016, to the realities of the UK property market today, five months prior to the UK’s official exit date.

Paul Smith, chief executive of haart estate agents, said: “For over two years we have been listening to bold claims from industry commentators and public figures about the impact that Brexit will have on the housing market.

“But what we are seeing on the ground is proving them otherwise. The number of buyers entering the market is the highest in two years, and the number of property transactions in August is the most seen since November 2016.

“Now, so close to the end of the Brexit process, I cannot see much changing. EU or no-EU the need to move home will always be there. Brits move for a whole host of reasons including good schools, new jobs and better transport links.”

The paper, which focused on the immediate economic impact on the vote to leave and the two years that followed, predicted doom and gloom for the property market.

Presented by former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, it said that demand for housing would fall due to higher costs of lending, and at the end of the two years, house prices would be around 10% lower relative to a vote to remain in the EU.

It also stated in a severe shock scenario, house prices would be around 18% lower. This shock to the property market would be led by consumer uncertainty, and much higher levels of unemployment, with all regions experiencing a rise in the number of people out of work.

However, analysis by haart found that house prices have risen by 9% since the Brexit vote.

Latest HMRC property transaction statics showed the level of residential transactions is currently 13% higher than the same time last year, and on the ground the level of transactions haart is seeing is at its highest in two years.

Smith added: “Brexit’ is not a word our branches are hearing on the ground anymore, but instead, customers are much more focused on what is happening with interest rates and stamp duty, and for investors, the recent tax changes.

“The average house price has tripled since 1995 and that increase is driven by domestic demand. Britain is a nation obsessed by property, and people are more determined than ever to move on to and up the ladder

“But the reality is that the property market is heavily driven by sentiment. If the government can provide a strong vision of the UK’s post-Brexit future, greater stability and confidence will follow. Comments from those such as Mark Carney who downplay the potential market conditions are extremely unhelpful.”

Demand for housing has also risen by 8% and is currently at its highest level since May 2016. Lending remains historically low and wage growth for British workers is also increasing at its strongest rate for three years, amid the lowest levels of unemployment since the mid-1970s.

Haart’s research came shortly after claims from the Bank of England Governor that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario would be comparable to the 2008 recession. However, it was also found that the UK mortgage market has become much stronger and healthier in the past decade.

Smith said: “Today’s market is well-insulated against any macro-financial situations that may come our way, and I do not believe these doomsday predictions are within any realistic parameters of what could happen, or that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could have the same impact on the property market today than the financial crash did back in 2007.

“Today, debt in the form of mortgages accounts for just 43% of house purchase funding due to measures introduced after the crash, and last month there was the highest level of remortgaging activity in a decade as homeowners locked themselves into a low-interest rate deal.

“With these mortgage conditions and strong demand, prices will always be propped up.”

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