The Brexit dilemma and UK property market

April 24, 2019 15:20
Amid the Brexit chaos, the property market in the UK offers some bargain-hunting opportunities, observers say. Photo: Reuters

Many people are pessimistic about the European Union's future, taking the view that it might fall apart anytime. I don’t agree with such speculation.

The EU, in fact, is a very creative and flexible political framework, and has managed to maintain its relevance.

True, various nations in Europe still have great differences in history, culture, language and economic development.  And the current system does have its loopholes, of which the bureaucracy is a big issue.

A fragmented fiscal system has made southern European nations like Spain and Greece less competitive, but currency devaluation is not a choice.

Despite all the complaints and problems, the reality is, Greece and Italy both opted to stay in EU at critical junctures. Meanwhile, a number of eastern European countries are still lining up to become member states.

Currently, the UK and its government are in an awkward position. The Brexit deadline has been postponed to the end of October, and there is no certainty that a sensible deal can be reached before that.

It’s possible that any kind of Brexit deal will undermine the long-term interests of UK.

Some people are still hopeful of a second referendum, but personally I don’t think that is likely. If the first referendum can be written off just like that, why would the second referendum be effective?

In the Brexit referendum in 2016, nearly 56 percent of people in North Ireland and 62 percent Scottish citizens voted for staying in the EU. 

Many of my friends have bought properties in the UK. They are not worried about negative impact from Brexit, and strongly believe this is a great bargain-hunting opportunity in a market downturn.

However, banks have drafted plans to leave UK and transferred many jobs to Paris and Frankfurt.

Housing price overall has slumped 10 to 15 percent from the peak in 2015. The total fall has amounted to nearly 30 percent if the weaker sterling is taken into account.

The full article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 23

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Eddie Tam is the founder and CEO of Central Asset Investments.