Initial indications predict a stormy ride for sellers

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It could be autumn before figures are released that show what the effect of the referendum on Britain’s EU membership has been on the property market but we are already facing a barrage of conflicting information.

Already in the last two years there has been much political uncertainty in Scotland plus big changes in property tax laws, which makes it difficult to measure market activity or selling prices against a norm.

Part of the problem, of course, is that warnings given before the vote could turn out to be self fulfilling.

Certainly the initial reaction to the vote seemed to shore up the predictions made by Chancellor George Osborne who warned Brexit would lower house prices.

The morning that the result was announced, shares in estate agents, particularly those in London, plummeted.

What is perhaps more alarming is that shares in companies that build houses in the UK dropped dramatically too, suggesting that the markets at least think our exit from the EU will be bad for both house sales and house building.

Before the vote, the Prime Minister also warned that average mortgages could rise by £1,000 a year in the event of Brexit.

But many now expect interest rates to be cut in the short term, possibly to zero, so monthly payments could actually fall, at least in the short term.

Cheaper homes and lower mortgage payments would, of course, be a benefit to those wanting to get on the housing ladder plus an advantage to those moving up it, but predictions that prices will fall have also been challenged.

If current home owners are put off selling and new homes aren’t built there may be fewer properties to buy, which according to the rules of supply and demand, would increase prices.

Meanwhile, north of the border we have another independence referendum back on the agenda, which could unnerve investors.

All of the factors mean it is just too early to tell.

In my own experience, the effects are already being felt in what feels like a very nervous market.

A family member works for a small structural engineering company, dealing with extensions to private houses.

In the aftermath of the vote, they have already had a couple of calls putting projects on hold as home owners are nervous about spending thousands of pounds on a conservatory or loft extension when there is such political and financial uncertainty.

Inquiries regarding new projects have been eerily quiet.

Among my inbox of properties to be considered for inclusion in The Scotsman’s property pages are several that have come on the market in the last week as a reaction to the vote’s result.

Perhaps more devastating are friends whose southside Edinburgh home went to a closing date and achieved an excellent price just a few weeks ago, who now faces putting their house back on the market after the buyer withdrew.

Their chain included a London buyer who has withdrawn in the aftermath of the vote

Anecdotal evidence suggests that they aren’t the only ones whose deal is off because of circumstances completely out of their control.

At the moment all we can offer is sympathy, and wait and see.

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