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COMMERCIAL REPORTER: BAD NEWS TRAVELS AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GOOD NEWS?

By Robert Collins

There has been a lot of negative press recently on how the property market has been ‘hit’ by the Brexit vote. However, similarly to the introducers I’ve recently spoken to, my experience has been very different, with no sign of a drop off in the level of enquiries coming in.

So, why are there so many negative stories when it comes to the property market and the economy in general? Without accessing the news, would we notice any difference at all since the Brexit vote? There appears to be a sense of confusion and miscommunication and, if we’re not careful, we could force ourselves into a downturn.

I recently met up with four introducers based in Birmingham and three of the four had a positive outlook on the market and, like us, have had a very busy August. In terms of year on year comparison, last August was one of our quietest months. However, with one day to go in the month, this year we are shaping up to be 100% ahead of August last year.

It is not just at Brightstar where volumes are holding firm however. According to the CML, gross lending in July was down just 1% on July 2015, while the BBA revealed that gross mortgage lending is up 6% on last year. The feedback from my colleagues at the NACFB has also underpinned this view. In addition, the pound rose to a three week high in August, again suggesting a resilient post-Brexit economy. Therefore, instead of speculating and talking ourselves into a post-Brexit recession, let’s focus on the hard facts while staying positive and upping our game.

However, we cannot be naïve and cannot discount any potential negativity coming through in the next few months. However, this feeling of uncertainty in the market generally is prompting people to look at different options and other contingency plans, hence we haven’t seen a decrease in enquiries. As the old adage says, one person’s misfortune is another person’s opportunity.

The uncertainty around Brexit has clearly become an extremely popular scapegoat. However, many of the business decisions that have been made in recent weeks had been discussed prior to the referendum and had absolutely nothing to do with Brexit. It has become an easy excuse to explain away unpopular decisions.

I also think that there is a political element to how the post-Brexit news is being interpreted. Anyone in the Remain camp that predicted large scale economic fallout will have a different mind-set to the Brexiteers. However, let’s not forget that 52% of the country wanted this outcome so surely they must be feeling positive about the future right now.

It was only eight years ago that the credit crunch hit and those that got burnt understandably don’t want to be caught out again. However, I am confident that more people will realise that this isn’t another massive economic shock. It is something that we should take in our stride and confidence will return to the market, although we must not become complacent.

Apart from the changes to the base rate, exchange rate and the vote itself, not much has actually changed. There is still a mismatch in terms of housing demand and supply and, with the government still down on its pledge to increase the amount of housing, whatever happens in the short term, house prices will be pushed up in the long term. Looking at the results on the ground, it seems as if the recent negative stories may well have been overdone and, from talking to lenders and introducers across the country, it really is business as usual for the time being.