Brexit Extension to Prolong U.K. Housing Market Pains

Brexit Extension to Prolong U.K. Housing Market Pains

The prolonged timeline for Britain’s exit from the European Union—now extended until Oct. 31—is dragging out the country’s real estate market malaise.

Demand for homes across the U.K. fell for the eighth straight month in March, according to the latest report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors released Thursday. The dearth of interest from home buyers has caused sales to slow and listings to languish on the market, with the average seller waiting 19 weeks from listing to close, according to the survey of more than 300 property agents.

“Brexit remains a major drag on activity in the market with anecdotal evidence pointing to potential buyers being reluctant to commit in the face of the heightened sense of uncertainty,” said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, in the report.

The trade organization predicts that transactions will continue to fall in the coming months as would-be buyers sit on the sidelines.

Britain was scheduled to cut the cord in mid-March but lawmakers failed to agree on an exit strategy in time, a deadlock that drove Prime Minister Theresa May to announce her impending resignation. On Wednesday night an EU summit granted the U.K. a flexible extension until Halloween to hammer out a deal.

A withdrawal agreement—which would clarify points like Brits working in the EU and the future of the U.K.-EU border in Ireland—is broadly preferred to a no-deal Brexit, but it means more pain for the country’s housing market in the meantime.

“Until a decision is made this will continue,” wrote agent Chris Clubley in response to RICS March survey. “The effect this has on the market cannot be quantified.” Read more

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