Last night the prime minister’s Brexit deal proposal suffered a loss of historic proportions, with 432 votes against to 202 in favour.
As the political future of the country hangs in the balance in the form of vote on confidence in government, the mortgage and housing industry had their say as to what the latest developments could mean for the property market.
North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf says: “On the one hand, the risk of uncertainty for the property market increases after yesterday’s vote but on the other, it helps to concentrate minds on all sides as the threat of a ’no deal’ rises, which was reflected in Sterling strengthening immediately after the result was announced.
“Most buyers and sellers tell us that a ’no deal’ Brexit will lead to greater property market uncertainty. A ‘hard’ Brexit could prompt more investor interest from abroad although owner-occupiers might be reluctant to commit until Visa rights are clarified.”
Leaf highlights that different regions are reacting to the ongoing Brexit fallout in different ways: “Buyers in London and the South East seem more pre-occupied with Brexit than those elsewhere in the country. Where sales are agreed in the current price-sensitive market, discounts need to reflect buyers’ perceived risk of a possible market downturn,” he says.
Brightstar chief executive Rob Jupp adds: “I remain cautiously optimistic that a soft Brexit will be achieved by the 26 March without the need for either a ‘peoples vote’ or a no deal Brexit.”
Uncertainty is a permanent theme. Yomdel chief executive Andy Soloman comments: “The last thing the current property landscape required was yet more uncertainty but unfortunately that is what has been delivered following the events of last night.
“This ongoing instability will no doubt be detrimental as more UK buyers and sellers continue to refrain from entering the fray and it certainly looks like things will get worse before they get better.
“While the market remains fairly resilient considering, a further slow in the rate of price growth is likely and we will no doubt see mortgage approvals and transactions continue to decline as buyers demand falls and the number of sales completing follows suit.”
Meanwhile, Investec business development manager Peter Izard says: “We are in unprecedented political territory.
“In my opinion a no-deal Brexit is the least likely path following last night’s vote, and all other options remain open and possible.
“Our Brexit continuity plans remain on course, but the vote has upped the ante, it shows that we’ve got to be clearer about what we’re going to do sooner. Uncertainty isn’t helping. But again this really is unprecedented.”
Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart operations manager John Phillips says: “Last night’s historic defeat shows that despite two years of negotiations we are no further on than we were after the Brexit vote. Brexit has split the country, but one thing most people are agreed on is that our MPs have let us down and we are in danger of switching off completely about the whole issue.
“If Theresa May, or her successor if the government is voted out following today’s vote of no confidence, doesn’t get an extension to Article 50 or manage to negotiate a deal that does go through parliament, then we will leave the EU without a deal on 29 March.
“But I refuse to be all doom and gloom about it because negative predictions can be damaging, and I genuinely don’t think Brexit will be the disaster everyone says it will. The UK business market is resilient and always finds a solution to whatever is thrown at it and once we are past March 29, whether we have a deal or not, I think things will start to improve because some of that uncertainty will be removed, giving people a better idea of what the future holds.”
Octopus Property chief executive Mario Berti says: “Whilst forecast, the size of the defeat is a real blow to the UK real estate sector. Whilst a lot of the uncertainty caused by Brexit has been priced into the property market, this result is likely to lead to even more reluctance amongst real estate developers and investors to move forward with their UK real estate strategies, which will negatively impact the whole sector.”
Lentune Mortgage Consultancy managing director Stuart Gregory comments: “The end game of Brexit is upon us. Yes, the country voted to leave, but Mrs May enabled the negotiations to be about appeasing her own political party rather than acting in the best interests of the country.
“Brexit as a process, and Theresa May’s inadequacies, has during 2018 reduced consumer confidence to a level where mortgage enquiries in the final quarter to a mere trickle. People are out there not committing to proceeding until some knowledge of the next stage of Brexit is known. Once consumer confidence is hit, it’s difficult to make it come back – irrespective of the interest rates on offer from lenders.
“We’ve had a stronger start to 2019 but the majority of that has been remortgage business. Estate agents are suffering, solicitors are suffering – we haven’t even left yet.”
Glenhawk chief executive Guy Harrington says: “This outcome is certainly better than the deal that was on offer, that’s for sure. The sooner it is taken off the table, the better. Hopefully any further negotiations with the EU will now be delayed, and ultimately Brexit cancelled.”