Commercial property sector remains bullish before Brexit

The property sector remains in a positive frame of mind about Brexit, with the majority of business leaders confident about the future when the country leaves the European Union in March 2019.

But much still depends on the type of Brexit that is ultimately agreed and whether there is a wider knock-on effect on the UK economy, says Rob Howells, partner, commercial property, Hutchinson Thomas.

Various surveys have illustrated that the UK’s commercial property sector remained in good health in 2017 with investment volumes up 11 percent on 2016 and with confidence robust. A survey Shakespeare Martineau found that some 70% of real estate sector leaders believe the UK is strong enough to be independent, and 84% have experienced no change to EU operations or trade since Article 50 was triggered.

But it also found that only one in five have taken actions to mitigate against potential risks, 80% agree that immigration is required to fill the skills gap and one in seven are planning to or have already pulled a project due to Brexit.

Howells says that the findings of the survey show that, while there remains a broad-based optimism in the sector, much depends on the details of the final deal agreed by the UK government.

“I agree that Brexit has not had a huge impact to date but we must bear in mind that no one actually knows what type of Brexit we’ll have yet,” he says. “The fact is that the property market is inextricably linked to confidence in the economy; if business grows then people will look to invest in property both out of necessity and for financial gain. If we suffer a post Brexit contraction then opposite will happen.”