Brexit? Keep calm and carry on
A week on from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the dust is slowly settling but, for now, nothing has changed, nor looks set to do so for the foreseeable future, for Brits who live, work and own property in Spain.
Since the result of the June 23 referendum became clear in the early hours of last Friday, Brits at home and abroad, as well as millions of European Union citizens resident in the United Kingdom, have been subjected to an avalanche of ever more mixed messages about what “no” may actually mean.
While it clearly signifies that, sooner or later, something will be changing in terms of the UK’s relationship to the rest of the EU, for the moment and as far as I can see, almost anything is still possible.
Most of our overseas clients, and many Brits we assist, have relatively high disposable incomes or savings, hold private health insurance and pension plans, and own or are interested in buying property in which to spend their holidays, rather than live here year-round. In truth, any future red tape is more likely to affect me personally than the vast majority of our clients.
Over the last week, however, I’ve received a number of calls from clients—including not only Britons in the UK and Spain, but also Danes, Gibraltarians, French, Irish, and even Spaniards who own, or are thinking of buying or selling, property on the Costa del Sol—who are confused, bemused and, in some cases, amused by the consequences of Brexit.
In one case, an optimistic buyer even asked me if there was an exodus of British sellers causing a drop in prices. If the UK could have voted for better weather, then maybe.
While the prevailing mood may be pessimistic, especially as regards the impact of the UK’s vote on its own and Europe’s economies and the potential political domino-effect across the EU of one country’s decision to leave, there are a number of good reasons to believe that this need not mean everything has to change for everyone.
Scaremongering and idle speculation aside, the facts of the situation are as follows: UK citizens can still travel to, live in and work in Spain this week with no restrictions, just as they were able to last week. No-one knows when, or even how, this will change in the future, but Brits can still freely come and go to the Costa del Sol as they choose.
British people can also continue to buy and sell property in Spain. Even if the UK were to eventually relinquish its free movement of person’s rights in exchange for border controls, Britons will still be able to buy and sell Spanish property, as citizens of just about every other country in the world, EU member state or not, are at liberty to do.
While sterling has taken a pounding (pun very much intended) in the last week and may trade weaker than it has recently against the euro for a while, it is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that currency values fluctuate. Although this does mean, in the meantime, that Brits buying property in Spain will have to pay correspondingly more in pounds than they have done of late, those selling and converting their profits back into sterling will benefit.
The good news for British buyers is that property values on the Costa del Sol, even in the best-performing markets like Marbella and Estepona, are still well down from their pre-crisis peak and demand is recovering fast, so a long-term investment in a property in the sun will almost certainly pay off whatever the current exchange rate. Should, as is expected, interest rates fall even further, many people with other financial investments will also be looking to the relative safety of bricks and mortar.
Finally, while the British do represent a significant share of local business today, we work in a global marketplace and sold properties to people of 13 different nationalities last year. Nothing has changed in 2016. There are increasing numbers of buyers flocking to the Costa del Sol from other EU countries, as well as from further afield, in search of the same things that have brought tourists and potential purchasers from the UK here for years: the weather, cuisine, culture and quality of life that makes Spain such a great place to live and invest.
By Adam Neale | Property News | July 4th, 2016