As we sit on the cusp of the triggering, at last, of Article 50 (scheduled for today, 29 March), it remains to be seen what impact the big farewell to the EU will have on the property market.
The CML data showed that gross mortgage lending was down by 8 per cent in February, compared to January, and the BBA’s latest figures on mortgage approvals found that both the number and value of new mortgage approvals also fell during the month.
Some experts commenting on the figures have predicted that the housing market will come under further pressure in the coming months, with first-time buyer demand continuing to rise but homemovers remaining cautious.
Following the enactment of the point of no return on Brexit, we will no doubt face yet another period where the market waits for the dust to settle. Looking at things subjectively, you can understand why property buyers and sellers would sit tight and look for indications of which direction the wind will blow as the country leaps into the most significant upheaval of this generation and beyond.
The perception may be that, once we are over this hurdle, the word of the past year – ‘uncertainty’ – will begin to disappear from the headlines. We will be out of Europe, for better or worse. But in fact it will be another two years before the exit is fully completed.
Ironically, as the UK prepares to separate itself from Europe, the younger generation seem set to live as their peers do on the continent, by expecting to rent for life – the difference for Brits being it isn’t a lifestyle choice.
According to Halifax, one in 10 of the 18–34 age group don’t believe they’ll ever be in a position to buy a home due to affordability issues arising from the cost of renting versus the size of a deposit needed to buy. With the average down-payment required in the UK at £32,321 – escalating to an astounding £100,445 in London – it’s not hard to see why.
It’s hard to fathom, then, how recent statistics showed that in 2016 there were the most first-time buyers for a decade, unless the Bank of Mum and Dad, or another resource outside income, was involved in most cases.
Whatever direction the price of housing takes after Article 50 is invoked, let’s hope that the Government delivers on its promise to build enough new homes so that the next generation don’t have to perform their own personal Brexit in order to be able to buy.