Brexit chaos is paralysing entire housing market including sales of agents themselves

Here are my thoughts on the Brexit chaos. Are they yours?

During my 40 years in the property industry, I have never seen an event that has paralysed the market so totally as Brexit.

I have clients in almost every market sector and almost every one of them is complaining about the devastating impact that the uncertainty has had on their business.

A big town planning firm told me that their income has fallen off a cliff because developers are not applying for consent for new schemes.

A quantity surveyor client complained that nearly all his projects have been delayed because developers are so nervous about starting new schemes.

And my residential estate agency clients, particularly those in London and the south-east, are complaining that every single one of their key performance indicators is down.

There are fewer valuations, fewer valuations convert to instructions, buyers are reluctant to make offers and sales are not completing because everyone is waiting for Brexit.

Severe impact

The impact on my own business, which brokers sales and purchases in the estate and lettings agency industry, has also been severe.

The value of a good managed letting business has dropped by 25% since the Brexit vote.

The value of a let-only business has dropped by 50% and the value of a sales business by 75%.

As a consequence, many sellers have delayed putting their businesses on to the market in the hope that prices will recover.

Worst of all, though, is that the sales that have been agreed, are not completing as the buyers and/or their funders are waiting for a resolution of Brexit.

This is grossly unfair on people who have worked hard all their lives only to find that they have to postpone their retirement through no fault of their own.

To be precise, though, most people are not waiting for Brexit to be completely resolved, which may take years.

Life will go on – but it will be chaos

Most people realise that regardless of whether we get Mrs May’s deal or a Norway type deal or a customs union, or even if Brexit is cancelled altogether, life will go on and people will find a way to adapt to the new regime.

But what is terrifying everyone is the chaos that we are told will ensue if we crash out of the EU with no deal.

We have been told that there will be food shortages, no medicines and no aeroplanes.

We have been warned that our computers will stop working and that there will be no gas or electricity.

We have been told that house prices will be fall by 35%, that GDP will fall off a cliff and that unemployment will go through the roof.

We have even been told that there will be troops on the streets to enforce law and order.

Who knows how much of this is scaremongering and how much could be true? But it really doesn’t matter.

People are delaying until they know

What matters is that the slightest chance of disruption on this scale is enough to make people delay buying a house or a business or taking on a new employee or making any other important decision until the threat has passed, and the cumulative impact of this on the prosperity and wellbeing of our country is catastrophic.

I have always had low expectations of this government but the least that we should all be able to expect from any government is that it will maintain the basic conditions necessary for people to enjoy their daily lives.

This means that we need law and order and the basics such as food, water and electricity.

If a no deal Brexit is threatening even these basic ingredients of our lives, then it needs to be taken off the table immediately so that ordinary decent working people can get on with their daily lives.

The current situation is a shambles and our politicians should hang their heads in shame that they have allowed it to happen and to continue for so long.

* Adam Walker is a management consultant and business transfer agent who has specialised in the property sector for 40 years 

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