With the final vote nearly upon us, what is the view of Brexit from the UK property industry? In May, Cushman & Wakefield presented to over 1,000 clients in seven key UK regional cities as part of our ‘Property Outlook’ roadshow. During each presentation, we asked a series of questions to the audience in order to gauge opinion and sentiment towards the UK property market over the next few years. In respect of Brexit, we asked the assembled property professionals “Will the UK be more competitive if it stays with the EU?”
UK more competitive within Europe
The overall feeling was positive with 40% of respondents saying the UK would be more competitive within the EU. A further 40% felt we would be the same either way, leaving just 20% believing the UK would be less competitive. Overall, a positive net balance of 20% felt the UK would be more competitive if we remained within Europe.
Individually, the audiences in Birmingham and Manchester were the most decisive with both the highest vote for “more competitive” and “less competitive” out of all the regional cities. The majority of the audience was more positive however with 50% of Birmingham and 40% of Manchester believing that the UK would be more competitive, compared to 27% and 23% less competitive respectively. Arguably, the Manchester and Birmingham markets are more sensitive to changes in the capital which is why the audience in these cities are more opinionated as to the impact of the result of the referendum.
Edinburgh and Newcastle more pro-European
Perhaps unsurprisingly, on a net basis, Edinburgh stood out with the highest net balance for being more competitive within the EU. The city of Edinburgh has a large presence of both financial and technology firms, both of which tend to support the “Remain” vote which could explain their position.
Likewise the North East economy is heavily weighted towards exporting to the EU, especially with the likes of Nissan having major operations in the region. Whilst the view on competitiveness was little different from other regions, we did ask a further question on whether “compared to the rest of the UK, does the North East has more to gain or lose in the event of a leave vote?”. The result was overwhelmingly of the opinion that the region had more to lose being outside the EU – close to 80%.
Vote remains in the balance
Overall, sentiment across the UK regions was positive with significantly more people believing that the UK will be better off remaining in the EU. Of course the property industry represents just one part of the UK population. With polls continuing to remain tight and the balance shifting between remain and leave there remains a lot to play for.
Fortunately the waiting game is nearly over and the UK’s decision on its membership of the EU will be known shortly.
Alex Dunn, Senior Analyst, UK Research