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Comment: Whatever happens, we’ll survive

The sector has inbuilt resilience and will succeed in a post-Brexit world.

There is a lot of nervousness around what the future might look like for the UK economy and mortgage market, given the way Brexit negotiations are going.

At the time of writing, we are told by prime minister Theresa May that a deal is “95 per cent done”. Unfortunately, few believe it and the 5 per cent is probably the hardest part to get “done”.

I am not so naïve to think all the uncertainty leading up to a deal is not having an impact. The housing market is soft at present and more potential sellers and purchasers are likely to put off decisions until the picture becomes clearer. But I am also not of the persuasion that suggests the entire world will go to hell in a handbasket when we leave the EU.

Clearly, this is a momentous occasion, but will it be as bad as the immediate period post-stockmarket crashes of the late 1980s? Or indeed Black Wednesday in 1992, when the UK withdrew sterling from the Exchange Rate Mechanism?

The housing market suffered a great deal back then, and took some time to recover, but recover it did. Leaving the EU will, of course, impact our sector but it has the ability to recover quickly.

Put it this way: if I were 10 years younger I would be looking to buy property now.

So, let’s not hold on to the belief that everything is doomed. Over the past couple of years, the buy-to-let sector (more than most) has apparently been on its last legs, yet in the last few days I have read that 88 per cent of landlords made a profit in the last three months and 80 per cent plan to expand their portfolios over the next two years.

That hardly sounds like a cohort undecided about its future. In fact, it sounds like landlords – who have indeed become more professional in recent years – are recognising that the current market provides them with opportunities they should act upon.

The market will always find a way and I have no doubt that, while there will be some major challenges ahead, we should not blindly assume that this is the end of life as we know it. It is not. Those who can see the wood for the trees are likely to see the ongoing opportunities that exist for all of us.

Bob Young is chief executive of Fleet Mortgages

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