Brexit Reduced Concern For Conveyancers In 2020

Stakeholders in the property sector perceive reservation agreements, the fifth anti-money laundering directive (5AMLD), Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) changes, technology and ground rents/leases/service charges as the main challenges to the sector this year. 

According to a survey conducted by the Bold Legal Group, respondents from the 700 strong association of law firms were focused on the impact that regulatory changes and technology would have on the sector. 

Thankfully, Brexit failed to make the top 5 concerns.  

The decade may have ended with subdued growth in the property market but the increased certainty from the general election last December has provided optimism within the sector.  

Stakeholders are now determined to consider issues impacting the sector beyond the effects of sustained political uncertainty. 

Similarly, a survey by European law firm Kingfishers suggested respondents were looking to 2020 with a level of optimism with 45% committed to driving up revenue with commercial real estate and residential property viewed as attractive opportunities by developers, investors and advisers. 

Almost half (44%) were targeting commercial development opportunities whilst a third (31%) identifying residential property opportunities. 

However, respondents were less confident about the property market in the medium term with a third uncertain of how the market will perform and a quarter (27%) adamant that the market will remain flat. 

Overall, many lingering factors continue to concern the sector. A third of respondents feared an economic recession following the election result whilst a quarter of respondents still highlight Brexit as the main threat to their business in 2020.  

Rob Hailstone, Founder and CEO of the BLG, said:  

“The length of this list underlines the complexity and variety of issues that the 21st century conveyancer has to deal with. It is little wonder that the average time it takes to buy and sell property seems to get longer and longer. 

It is great that efforts are being made to improve the home buying and selling process, however, until that time comes BLG members will continue to help each other as and when they are able.” 

Ross Counsell, Director at Good Move, the regulated property buyer, offered the following predictions for 2020: 

House prices grew incredibly slowly in 2019, with the political and economic uncertainty leading to rises of just 1% in England. There were larger increases in other areas of the UK, but the overall picture was bleak. 

While it is unlikely that house prices will suddenly spike in 2020, the relatively stable political situation brought on by the Conservative majority, might lead to more significant growth. 

The February Budget will no doubt affect the market, especially if there are reforms for first-time buyers, however it’s largely expected that confidence will somewhat return and house prices will increase. We estimate that the rise will be in the region of 2-3%.  

The cost of renting could increase by an even greater rate. The number of letting properties available is currently rather low, which generally prompts a rise in prices.  

The amount of homes on the market is still lower than it has been in previous years, so first-time buyers might struggle to find a suitable property. However, renewed industry confidence might lead to a surge in houses being listed. Some sellers will have delayed putting their homes on the market until it stabilised and 2020 could be the year they were waiting for. 

However, if house prices do rise, many will continue finding it difficult to save enough money for deposits. The Lifetime ISA scheme is helping people to afford the initial lump sum, but more needs to be done to support those looking to get on the property ladder. 

The positive news is that mortgage rates remain low. They may rise in 2020, but any increase is likely to be modest. 

The UK is set to leave the European Union on 31st January and the impact of this move will depend heavily on the quality of the deal the government manages to secure. The outcome of a ‘no-deal’ scenario could well be a fall in house prices, but the uncertainty makes it hard to predict. 

Our recent research found that three-quarters of Brits overestimate how badly Brexit has affected their local property prices, which proves how difficult its impact is to comprehend, let alone forecast. 

While the economy is still languishing, the weak pound could actually make the UK property market more appealing to foreign investors, as their money will go further. 

This, however, depends on current property owners being prepared to sell. Most will likely jump on the increase in market confidence and list their homes straight away, but others may hold on to see just how far house prices rise before making a decision. As such, the expected influx of homes being listed may come a few months, or even years, after Brexit, when sellers have a better understanding of the new economic climate. 

What are the main concerns and opportunities highlighted by your firm in 2020? 

2 Comments

  • test

    Brexit has nothing to do with the topic, of course.
    People buy houses and flats either as owner-occupiers or as investment properties.
    And everyone has to live somewhere.
    So maybe the ‘Brexit’ reference is just for the purpose of eye-catching or stirring-up controversy?

  • test

    As I remember it, the last time the Tories got the numbers to govern, saw the ditching of HIPS.

    The UK now loses £271m pa in abortive transactions thanks to the right information not being in the right place at the right time.

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