NEWS: Heading for the door marked 'Brexit'
Seismic. A political earthquake. Unprecedented.
In the early hours of 24 June, the superlatives started to fly as it became clear that the British public had voted to leave the European Union. The political ramifications were immediately apparent: within hours, David Cameron had resigned and Boris Johnson was being talked of as his successor. The financial markets and the pound plunged.
Yet in property terms — as with so much else connected to this historic vote — it's unclear as to what could happen next.
Melanie Leech, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, summed up the mood of many property experts and analysts, however, with her statement. “The priority for the government and the Bank of England must now be to stabilise the position and maintain confidence in the UK,” she said. Depending on what side of the remain/leave divide you are, this is either a desperately worrying and uncertain time — or the beginning of an exciting new era of UK growth and opportunity...
NEWS: Referendum time
Brexit, we have been told, could cause a variety of problems, the biggest of which (by some margin) is World War Three. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that staying in the EU would be tantamount to appeasing Hitler.
Yes: we've not had the most edifying or rational of debates in the run-up to the EU referendum. But at least it's here: the month when we put our cross in the box marked Britain 'in' or 'out' of Europe. There is, though, just time to squeeze in one more in/out warning. Echoing similar sentiments from the International Monetary Fund and the National Association of Estate Agents, Chancellor George Osborne has said that houses could be worth up to 18% less by 2018 if the UK votes to leave. Energy minister Andrea Leadsom from Vote Leave, meanwhile, said this was “an extraordinary claim” and that “the greatest threat to the economy is the perilous state of the euro.”
So that's just as confusing as ever, then. Roll on 23 June.
NEWS: Rules and regulations
It's been a turbulent time for the rental industry of late, with new rules coming into force that could make a significant impact on the market. The recent additional 3% stamp duty on second homes, for instance, has been followed by a regulation (first announced in the summer budget) that landlords won't be able to deduct 'wear and tear' from rental receipts before income tax is applicable. Some pundits believe that both of these measures will push up the price of rents; and one survey found that the stamp duty rise on second homes would discourage three-quarters of landlords from buying more properties.
In other headlines, the National Audit Office has found that The Green Deal — the government's energy-saving programme that folded last July — cost taxpayers £240million, but failed to deliver 'meaningful benefit' on energy and carbon emissions. Only 14,000 households took out Green Deal loans.
NEWS: Did George blow his budget?
It's probably fair to say that George Osborne's budget wasn't a resounding success. In fact, there was so much fall-out from it — namely the Iain Duncan-Smith resignation — that it was easy to forget that some of what the Chancellor said at the dispatch box had significant implications for the property market.
For instance, landlords reacted with dismay to the announcement that residential property sales would be exempt from cuts to the rate of capital gains tax (CGT). And if anyone thought the Government would U-turn on the introduction of higher rates of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on purchases of buy-to-let properties and second homes, they were disappointed. In fact, it's been reported that the number of buy-to-let mortgages increased recently as landlords rushed to beat the changes (a 3% surcharge on stamp duty) that came in on 1 April…
Crowd controlled: Budget 2016
Oh joy: it's that time of the year again when the Chancellor of the Exchequer stands up at the dispatch box in the House of Commons to announce his Budget. Which means that this month — on 16 March, to be precise — we'll know what George Osborne has in store for the property sector. Unusually, the Treasury has crowdsourced this budget by asking members of the public to submit their own tax and spend ideas via a website. So we'll see how many of those get through...
The other big news is the European referendum, which David Cameron has announced will take place on 23 June. The big unfathomable question is: what will happen to UK property prices if there's a Brexit?