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News of the property market’s demise has been greatly exaggerated

An image showing the UK being split from Europe due to Brexit

There’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the EU Referendum result. Guy Vaughan, senior valuer at Love Your Postcode explores the aftermath of Brexit on the property market.

Brexit angst, together with the resulting political overspill of resignations and new Prime Minsters, has certainly made for sensational stuff where news output is concerned.

We’ve seen an entire changing of the guard in the Labour Shadow Cabinet albeit with a contrasting, Teflon-like approach from the top; a vacancy at the top of UKIP; a plunging pound and some hysterics in the stock market especially focused upon the banking sector and housebuilders. Poor Foxtons saw a 35% drop in share price the day after the EU vote, equal to £100 million being wiped off of their valuation. Ironic really, considering that they themselves have a propensity to overvalue properties as a means of attracting new sellers to instruct them.

Yet despite a brief FTSE wobble, now recovered and a watering down of some stocks that were probably overvalued anyway, the gates of financial hell do not seem to have opened. Even the ex-Chancellor has had a vole face on his predictions for higher unemployment, increased interest rates, UK company headquarters being ceremoniously boarded up and transferred box by box to Hamburg; empty bank vaults… that sort of thing. In fact, the pro-European political elite that told us stories of impending meltdown should we dare to extricate ourselves from Brussels, have all now relented and decided that it’s all ok after all.

So, to the property market. The Treasury explained that we would see ‘falls in house prices of 18%’. Buyers would suddenly disappear. Sellers would retreat en masse never to venture to sell again. And mortgage companies would spite us all.

The truth is, three weeks on, that the Midlands estate agency industry is reporting business as usual. Unless they operate in a posh London area above £5m where, as has been the case for over a year, the market is waning. Here at Love Your Postcode, we are listing properties at the same rate as usual. Viewings are at a high level and our sales are at an all time high. Our sales pipeline of over 50 properties has had only 1 falling through because of Brexit.

The strength of the UK property market should not be underestimated, as some seem to have done:

  • There is a shortage of housing being built that is considered to manifest itself as a shortfall of circa 100,000 homes each year
  • Our population is growing. Not just through immigration and regardless of whether this is curtailed but because more people are being born and we are all living longer
  • Some 20% of properties are now single occupier thereby creating further demand.
  • Mortgage rates are extremely low and, in fact, the lowest ever (Barclays, HSBC, Metro Bank, the Leeds Building Society have all reduced their rates since the EU vote outcome). Cheaper repayments means more demand

Structurally, the property market is unchanged. Yes, there is uncertainty and mainly fuelled by the media and by those that perhaps want to be ‘right’ about the dangers of leaving the EU.

Will we see a softening in the property market? Short term perhaps, based solely on misplaced negative sentiment. But medium to long term, no way.

Safe as houses, as they say.

Guy Vaughan

News of the property market’s demise has been greatly exaggerated
By David Price