If there’s just one word we should use to describe how Brexit will pan out, it would have to be “uncertain”. However, it is exactly because of this uncertainty that, if you are considering selling or buying a house, you might benefit from doing so now to avoid running unnecessary risks.
On the subject of its membership of the EU, the nation has asked itself “should I stay or should I go” more often than The Clash. However, whatever your own stance on the issue, it’s not too hard to assess how the Brexit factor has impacted UK property prices so far.
The immediate effect of the referendum
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that UK house prices have steadily increased since roughly the beginning of 2013. However, since June 2016, when the British public voted to leave the EU, this growth rate has dramatically slowed.
Whereas that rate was 8.2% in June 2016, it had dropped to 0.9% by June 2019, as the Mirror recalls. Average prices of UK houses continued to rise until peaking at £232,000 and, in June 2019, sat at £230,000, according to the ONS.
The north-south divide in the housing market
How has the housing market fared more recently? One report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and relayed by Bloomberg reveals that, in August, house sales were flat or negative in most areas of the UK, with RICS’s headline index of prices negative.
Still, one picture that becomes clear when August property prices are studied is that of London and surrounding regions suffering the most in the market’s post-referendum downtown. Whereas outright declines in prices were reported in London, the South East and East Anglia, values in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are said to have stayed resilient.
Should you buy a house now?
It could prove a surprisingly convenient time to seal a property purchase. Nationwide building society says that the average UK house price sat at £216,096 in August – £1,567 lower than the value a month earlier, as the Guardian reports.
Furthermore, with the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit intensifying, it’s understandable why, as Rightmove director Miles Shipside has claimed, “more buyers are now going for the certainty of doing a deal” rather than postponing it and risking a no-deal Brexit complicating matters yet further.
Buying now, while prices are historically low, also means that you could save some money to spend later on improving that home, should it turn out to have a few previously unnoticed issues.
For example, if you quickly finalise the purchase of a house in the North East, where Rightmove reveals the number of house sales soared by up to 10% in August, rest assured that roofers in Newcastle, Sunderland and nearby can be at close hand should you come across a leak.
While a no-deal Brexit could sink property prices further, it could also curb your ability to afford a house in the first place, with interest rates and job losses potentially increasing.