Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Investors Biding Their Time until after EU Vote

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Investors Biding Their Time until after EU Vote

Article excerpt

Byline: Coreena Ford Business reporter coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

MAJOR property investors are stalling decisions on real estate purchases until after the EU referendum, property firm Bilfinger GVA says.

Investors foresee a period of stagnation if British voters choose to leave the EU, claims Bilfinger GVA, which is putting many property plans on hold until the referendum on the country's membership of the EU is over.

While opinion polls may so far suggest most UK voters want to remain in the EU, support for the Leave campaign is high enough for investors to view a British exit as a real possibility, and the fear is that this could push down prices for commercial property, at least while the complex and protracted exit negotiations are taking place.

The possibility of Brexit hung over the property industry's annual MIPIM gathering in Cannes, where 23,500 European real estate professionals debated the potential impact of an Out vote on a UK market already coming off record highs.

UK trading volumes in the first two months of 2016 were similar to the previous year, says Neil Dovey, senior director at Bilfinger GVA, but he added this might be "a little bit of hangover" from 2015.

Simon Beanland, senior director at Bilfinger GVA in Newcastle, said: "Pricing in core markets would slip in the event of a British exit, affected by the many uncertainties about the UK's future.

"There could be specific risks to occupier demand for buildings as businesses hold off expanding in the aftermath of a vote to leave".

Newcastle's occupier market saw a significant slowdown in the first quarter of 2016, as leasing activity fell dramatically in the midst of uncertainty ahead of the referendum in June.

New research by commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has revealed that occupier deals in the city's central office market decreased to just 29,250 sq ft, representing a fall of 39% compared with Q1 2015, whilst out-oftown take-up fell 43%. …

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