Through the many conversations I have with my clients on a daily basis I find the Brexit effect is a real and worrying one for many. This is usually the case when there is uncertainty in the air and as many questions remain unanswered…we can but attempt to make educated guesses on the how, what, when and if’s of the Brexit effect on the Walsall Property Market. I can only comment on matters as they unravel and we learn together what the strategies of this exit may be as and when these are revealed to us.

Recently I feel Theresa May has wasted an opportunity to give peace of mind to our EU co-workers by not confirming their rights as EU citizens working and living in Walsall (and the rest of the UK). No.10 Downing Street’s point of view is that in promising the rights of EU citizens in the UK, it will postpone the same guarantee to the 1.5 million UK citizens living in the other nations of the EU.

For a moment let’s put aside the politics…the simple fact is now Article 50 has been set in motion, we have two years to make a deal with the EU, otherwise it will be a ‘hard Brexit’. Now you might not think a hard Brexit will affect you in your home in Walsall…but nothing could be further from the truth.

Of the 269,323 people who are resident in the Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council area, 242,660 were born in the UK, 4,102 were born in EU countries from West Europe and 6,315 were born in EU countries from the former Soviet States in East Europe (the rest coming from other countries around the world).

The rights of these EU citizens living in the Walsall area are not guaranteed and will now be part of the negotiation with Europe. It is true a lot of our EU next door neighbours in Walsall will have acquired rights relating to the right to live, to work, to own a business, to possess a property, the right to access health and education services and the right to remain in the UK after retirement… yet those acquired rights are up for negotiation in the next two years.

So, what would a rigid and hard Brexit do to the Walsall property market?

Well a hard Brexit could prove to be pivotal when it came to the Walsall housing market. The reality is that it could mean that every EU citizen would have to leave the UK.

In the Walsall Borough area, 2,782 of 4,102 Western European EU citizens own their own home and (so they would all need to be sold) and 4,416 of 6,315 Eastern European EU citizens rent a property, so again all those rental properties would all come on the market at the same time.

Hard Brexit and mass EU Migration would mean c. 3,500 properties being dumped onto the Walsall housing market in a short period of time, meaning there would be massive drop in Walsall property values and rents, causing negative equity for thousands of Walsall homeowners and many buy to let landlords would be out of pocket.

True to say, there is no certainty as to what the future will hold, both UK expats in the EU and EU citizens in the UK rights will no longer be guaranteed and will be subject to a two-sided renegotiation.

All I ask is that the politicians are sensible with each other in the negotiations. A lot of the success of the Walsall (and UK) property market has been built on high levels of homeownership and more recently in the last 10 to 15 years, a growth of the rental sector with lots of demand from Eastern Europeans coming to Walsall (and the surrounding area) to get work and provide for their families. Many Walsall people have invested their life savings into buying a buy to let property.

Much will depend on what is politically realistic. Unilateral knee-jerk reactions and measures caused by a hard Brexit would not only likely cause major disruption or suffering to the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, but also everyone who owns property in the UK… politics aside – a hard and rigid Brexit is in no one’s interests.

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