Well that was not what the bookies were expecting. Yesterday they were offering 1/9 that we would vote Remain and 6/1 for Leave. As it happens c. 52% of those who voted (there was a high turnout of 72%) decided they wanted to leave the European Union although 59.9% of Londoners voted to stay.
If you believe the Remain propaganda this means:
- World War III
- 3 million jobs are about to disappear
- House prices will fall 25%
- Prices for everything else will increase dramatically
- The government will cut spending by £36 billion
- Every UK household will be £4300 poorer
Flights out of Heathrow must be packed full of “Remain” politicians and voters looking for a safe haven somewhere. Alternatively they may decide that the UK is still quite a good place to live and will tone down the rhetoric in the coming days…
I imagine we will hear lots of talk from both sides about “respecting the British public’s decision” and “it being an opportunity to show Britain’s strength and adaptability”. Meanwhile European politicians will show a strong hand saying that there will be “no special treatment” and that “the European Union will continue to be strong and united”. Basically both sides are just positioning themselves for the negotiations.
But does this mean that house prices are about to plummet?
Well it is highly unlikely that this will have any effect on prices outside of London. Most people will simply get on with their lives oblivious to the existence of a Bloomberg terminal or Reuters screen.
I also don’t expect it to affect London in the medium to long term but London is a different story in the short term. The capital has always been far more politically sensitive which is why transaction levels historically have dropped 36% in a General Election year compared to c. 10% for the rest of the country. Indeed transaction levels have been relatively muted all this year due to the Referendum and the uncertainty caused.
I now expect transaction numbers to continue to fall as both buyers and sellers wait to see what will actually happen. Right now stock markets globally are in turmoil while gold is soaring and sterling is tanking.
Consequently, many people who were thinking of buying are likely to put their plans on hold until at least September to see how EU and UK politicians react to the result. If the politicians act at their normal pace then most, but not all, buyers will probably delay decisions for much, much longer.
But prices are unlikely to fall much because most sellers will not accept huge discounts - there are very few forced sellers out there so most will also simply wait to see what agreement will be reached. Of course there will be some who will panic sell and that is where the opportunities lie because London is not about to become a barren wasteland.
What will be interesting to see is whether international buyers decide to take advantage of sterling weakness. The developers will certainly hope so. If they don’t then there could well be severe price drops in many of the high density developments – especially those in the £1000-£2500 per sq.ft. price range.
As I write the Pound is currently 11% weaker than it was yesterday and the presenter on Bloomberg has just said: “I have never seen anything like this. I have never seen colours like this on our screens”.
This is one of those “blood on the streets” moments but it takes a brave person to act at such times which is why transaction levels will plummet and estate agents will be crying into their coffee.
However, you have to work out the likelihood of a “seismic” change outside of the political arena. Yes, this is certainly huge in political terms. Indeed the Dutch parliamentary party leader has just called for a referendum and Italy and Spain are likely to follow.
But will we stop doing business with Europe? Will the entire trade mechanism collapse? Are we going to ban all foreigners and send them all home? Or will little change because neither the Eurozone nor the UK can afford to lose the other as a trading partner or ally? As the Telegraph reported yesterday:
“… German business leaders handed a considerable boost to the Leave campaign by saying it would be “very, very foolish” to deny the UK a free trade deal after Brexit.
Markus Kerber, the head of the BDI, which represents German industry, said that 1970s-style trade barriers would result in job losses in Germany.”
It is going to take time to resolve, but I find it very hard to believe that all the vested interests in London and Europe (which includes all the international companies and investors from outside the EU) will allow the politicians to shoot the EU economy and consequently the global economy in the foot. There are huge forces at work behind the scenes which will shape the political decision.
And it is still very possible that we will not leave the EU. If you haven’t read Anthony Hilton’s article about why nothing may change despite a Brexit vote then click this link http://www.standard.co.uk/business/anthony-hilton-why-we-may-remain-even-if-we-vote-leave-a3272621.html.
So, the simple message is don’t panic. As you know this is always my underlying message: In strong markets you don’t have to rush in just because everyone else is. You must continue to be selective.
The same is true now – don’t panic because it seems like the world is about to implode – it won’t. However, if you see a seller who is panicking and they have a high quality property which can be acquired at a good price, then it may well be an opportunity worth pursuing. This is especially true if you can take advantage of sterling weakness.
But you must continue to be selective. Have I said that before?
I will have a more in depth analysis for you next week. To receive this and further market updates and analysis, please email email@example.com quoting BrexitAnalysis