Realistically the true effects on our markets and society of the result of the EU referendum may not fully be appreciated for years to come, if not longer, but for now there are a lot of questions that no one really knows the answers to. How long before we officially ‘exit’ the EU? Will this hinder travel around Europe? And, of course, most importantly, will we still be allowed to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest? These are just a few of the concerns I’ve heard bandied around since the result of the referendum became apparent, some of many questions that probably won’t be fully answered for some time.
Markets don’t like uncertainty and that’s the only thing we can be sure of at the moment, and this rings particularly true for anyone working in property finance. George Osborne has already attempted to steady the ship by saying no further action will be taken until the autumn, when it is likely we will have a new prime minister in place, however, it’s hard to stop a downward trend in market confidence.
Some experts have indicated that we may well see a squeeze on foreign direct investment into the country, which will inevitably have implications for builders. One of the biggest concerns a lot of our builder clients face is sourcing good-quality and well-priced materials for their projects. As a result, a lot of these come from EU countries and I’ve already spoken to several of our clients expressing concerns for their build costs going forward. If buying a site at a viable level has been tough enough over the past few years, developer profit is going to be further hampered by potentially rising costs.
Until further notice it’s very much a case of watch this space. Demand for new homes isn’t going anywhere, but the ability to supply them cost effectively is going to be called into question. Some funders with bank funding and investor funding lines could see some discomfort here. I saw an apt article in the aftermath of the referendum upset headlined: ‘The world’s first DIY recession’. This seems to be the one point the so-called experts predicted accurately and the fact that a Brexit seems to have triggered a sense of panic and almost inevitable recession. I am thankful that Regentsmead are in the position to lend our own funds. In the crash in 2008 our clients were extremely relieved that we were one of the few lenders not to start reigning in their funding when things started to take a turn for the worse. I don’t think anyone knows what’s round the corner for now and this is all the more reason for lenders to be prepared for all eventualities.