ORLANDO – The managing director of Mayfair International Realty, the U.K.-wide network of independent real estate brokers, is predicting that the Brexit vote will have minimal impact on the sale of homes in the United States by British investors, and could even offer a significant boost to Britain’s struggling real estate market as well.
In a recent column posted on Mayfair’s site, Churton acknowledged that last month’s vote by the people of Britain to exit the European Union after 43 years would pose huge challenges for both the United Kingdom and for the European Union.
He called the vote “a shock – even for many who voted to leave — as most had thought there would never actually be a majority to achieve this. So much for an empty protect vote. But out is out. We voted to go it alone once more, to take back full responsibility for all our laws, our borders, our revenue and our country.”
Despite the uncertainty of what the vote will mean for the future of Britain and the EU, Churton said the vote actually represents potential opportunities for real estate brokers in the British housing market if they can recognize them and take full advantage of them. Even as significant a vote as this one, Churton said, will likely not dampen the enthusiasm that many British residents have for purchasing homes in other parts of Europe – and in the United States.
“The U.K. may have stepped back from the European Union, but Britons won’t step back from wanting to live in countries like France, Italy or Spain,” Churton wrote. “Neither will they stop wanting to buy real estate in the U.S.A.”
Brexit could boost Britain’s housing market, which has been battered by high prices and high taxation that was meant to discourage foreign investment in British homes, Churton said. That market could now get a boost in the short-term from the Brexit decision. For one thing, he noted that Brexit sent the pound plummeting in value.
Then on June 30, just six days after the Brexit vote, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, hinted that interest rates could be cut over the summer from the current record low of 0.5 percent.
“This is also a chance to take back control of our domestic real estate market,” Churton wrote. “This has been investor-led for over a decade. Prices have spiraled and new taxation makes property investment – especially in prime central London – less attractive than it was.”
On the other hand, those low interest rates could draw the nation’s first-time home buyers into the market, he added.
“With rock-bottom interest rates and a possible pause in the rise in values, this should put much more control back in the hands of buyers who want a home rather than an opportunity to make a killing,” Churton wrote. “Investing in the U.K. may be attractive, but living here is so much more so.”
The Orlando area remains a major draw for foreign investors, including the British. They have been drawn to real estate opportunities in the counties closest to Walt Disney World, including Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties.
Parts of this region – particularly in Polk and Osceola counties – have experienced a dramatic construction boom in the past 15 years, with vast tracks of former citrus grove farms being transformed into new subdivisions, luxury vacation homes, and condominiums.
Central Florida’s housing market has been considered a safe investment for foreign buyers, and is expected to continue to after Brexit, particularly if the vote generates great uncertainty about the U.K.’s future.
“Perhaps this vote may even reflect what is going on in the U.S. at the moment where much of the electorate also seems disaffected with the political elite,” Churton wrote. The two major parties will hold their conventions this summer, when Republicans in Cleveland are expected to nominate New York real estate king Donald Trump, and Democrats in Philadelphia will nominate former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both candidates start the general election with high negative ratings.
“The tectonic plates of political dissatisfaction catch up with even the most stable democracies sometimes,” Churton wrote. “But if there is one lesson to be learned here, it is to be careful for what you wish for. The next months and years will be full of uncertainty for the U.K. But in this day and age name a place not full of uncertainty?”
He added, “While there are major concerns, there are also great opportunities. Britain has a very mature parliamentary democracy – perhaps the most mature – dating back to Magna Carta in 1215. The nation has withstood challenges over nine hundred years that would have shaken lesser nations to their roots. It will make the most of this unexpected chance and fresh beginning.”
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..