Just after the Brexit vote, there was a LOT of speculation surrounding how leaving the EU would impact the housing market. So far, there has been little impact since the vote - house prices have continued to rise (albeit at a more moderate rate) and houses across the country have continued to be bought and sold almost as normal.
But the reality is that voting to leave is not the same as actually leaving. This means that exactly how much impact Brexit will have on the housing market is largely unknown until the final deal (or no deal) is revealed and day one of being officially out of the European Union arrives.
So how do we know whether Brexit will make homes harder to sell? We run through some early indicators that the housing market may be bracing itself for a slump post-Brexit.
Mortgage approvals are an excellent indicator of market concern, as if banks are rejecting more mortgage applications on properties, then it’s likely they are worried that the house in question won’t be worth the price it was bought at in the near (or distant) future.
Mortgage applications are also made before a property is bought, so if more buyers are being rejected by banks, then this means that there will be fewer buyers in the market.
It was reported by The Guardian in October (2018) that the number of mortgages approved by banks had hit a seven month low (down 10% when compared with the same month in 2017).
The reality is that if you’re worried about your house not selling because of Brexit, then that’s because buyers are worried about buying too.
If consumer confidence is low, then we spend much more cautiously, typically starting with spending less on big-ticket items. This includes cars, luxury goods, holidays, expensive appliances and of course, houses.
There are a few ways we can measure consumer confidence. The most referenced one is with the Gfk Consumer Confidence index. According to this index, consumer confidence has fallen every month this year, with October’s result predicted to show the biggest drop.
Sadly, with so much uncertainty this usually reliable indicator of how the housing market is doing is about as good as a tipsters prediction of which horse will win the Grand National.
Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, gave his warning last month that a disruptive no-deal Brexit could cut 35% off house prices. Meanwhile, some of the UK’s biggest estate agents are predicting around a 5% decrease in housing prices in the early days post-Brexit.
Even at their most optimistic these predictions are hardly music to the ears of those wanting to sell up - but the reality is that there will always be houses on the market.
Sadly, debts, divorce and death mean that houses must be sold but the demand for buying can certainly dwindle significantly. This means longer periods on the market for those that do want to sell and that asking prices will need to be slashed in order for a buyer to be found.
To summarise the above indicators - the impact of leaving the EU will almost certainly have an impact on the British housing market. We’re likely to see:
Longer periods on the market for sellers
Fewer buyers in the market for a property as buyers either can’t get approved for a mortgage or opt to sit tight and stay put
A dip (or drop) in house prices as offering a bargain becomes the best way to find a buyer.
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