Belfast Telegraph

Brexit sees mixed reaction among home buyers

Estate agents are seeing a mixed reaction so far to the country's decision to leave the EU, with some buyers pausing for thought while many others press ahead with their plans.

While some buyers have decided to wait and see what happens for now, some others have upped their offers for properties in recent days.

With shortages of homes on the market for buyers to choose from, sellers have also been holding firm on their prices.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of London estate agent Stirling Ackroyd, said that while anecdotally a "handful" of buyers had been lost since the referendum, some of these deals had already been tied up.

He said: "Some people buying for investment purposes do appear to be stalling a little although people buying for themselves are continuing to push purchases through.

"As a result, vendors are holding firm on prices. Ultimately, there isn't enough residential property being built in London and Brexit hasn't changed that."

Property analyst Hometrack predicts house price growth across the UK's major cities will slow down rapidly during the second half of this year - but in general, it expects property prices to continue heading upwards rather than widespread price falls.

According to an index from estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, first-time buyers paid a record high of £173,282 on average for a property in May.

Adrian Gill, director of Your Move and Reeds Rains, said: "The Brexit result won't change the fact that huge numbers of aspiring first-timers want to buy a first home, and lots won't want to wait out the two years until the renegotiations over the EU have been completed.

"In the short-term, the wider market wobbles may benefit first-timers, giving them the leverage to negotiate harder and get a good deal."

Fionnuala Earley, chief economist at Countrywide estate agency, said anecdotally there has been a mixed response so far to the vote, with some overseas buyers increasing their offers on properties in the London and South East areas, some first-time buyers completing purchases and some people saying they will "wait and see".

She said it is too early to know what the full impact of the vote to leave the EU will be on the housing market and a clearer picture will emerge in the coming months.

Recent housing market reports have suggested that a vote to leave the EU could encourage more foreign investors into the London property market, as falls to the pound will make UK property prices appear relatively cheap to overseas buyers.

House hunters weighing up whether or not to wait may also want to bear in mind that s ome mortgage lenders are currently offering record low rates.

David Hollingworth, a spokesman for London and Country mortgage brokers, believes mortgage rates may edge down further still in the near term, as swap rates, which lenders use to price their home loans, have been falling.

"There is a real possibility we will see an improvement on deals that are already competitive," he said.

Mr Hollingworth said he has also seen some evidence that more people are considering whether to lock into longer term fixed rates, such as a five-year deal instead of a two-year deal, to give themselves certainty over their repayments for a longer period.

David Cox, managing director of Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) and Mark Hayward, managing director of National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), released a joint statement on Friday which said the UK housing market is "resilient", as is the supply chain that drives it, but it added: " the bigger impact may well be in the skills necessary to drive UK housing development, and this is now a major concern for UK buyers and renters".