Helping You Build a Life Overseas

What effect will the EU Referendum talk have on you?

As you know, here at the Overseas Guides Company, much of our time is spent on speaking to those looking to buy properties overseas, discussing their plans, the key pitfalls to avoid – and addressing any concerns. Through these conversations in recent weeks, a topic that has been a cause for concern and discussion has been the probable European Union (EU) Referendum in the UK, and whether this will affect their plans to move abroad
The idea of change is always worrying, and will always have an effect on the markets – as volatile as they are. But at the moment, while the decision of whether there will actually be a vote is not yet set in stone, and with no indication of what the result would be if this does go ahead, we believe that any worries are currently unfounded – especially in the short-term.
In our opinion, we believe that an ‘out’ vote is unlikely. The general sentiment right now is certainly towards staying in the EU and in favour of continuing the relationship and reciprocal agreements that are currently in place. Of course, there is a vocal minority who want to leave, but we have seen in recent times (for example, during last year’s Scotland Independence Referendum) how important it is to be able to cut through all the speculation, listen to the different opinions and focus in on the facts we already know, and the actual reality of the situation. 
What do the experts think?
Right now, market experts believe that the possibility of Britain exiting the EU has not even been factored in to the markets – especially as both sides of the table have been clear in their belief that it would be better for the UK to remain part of the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron has been vocal about his plans to negotiate a deal that helps this happen, and both Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, and Donald Tusk, European Council President, have stated that it is their intention to address the idea of the UK staying in the fold. 
We saw back in May that opinion polls may not always be relied upon for an accurate prediction in the run up to the event, but certainly at the moment, polls that have been released suggest we will remain in the EU.
What could happen if we do leave the EU?
While we firmly believe that the UK leaving the EU is unlikely, of course we understand that it’s important to look at what could happen if this is the case. In general, for our individual readers, we believe that life will be much the same. Purchasing a property in Europe will still be possible and without many differences – and given how much the regions that Brits buy in rely on this stream of income, we expect that overseas property ownership will still be encouraged. Expats already living in Europe should not see too much difference in their actual lifestyle abroad, and they would still enjoy all the usual benefits.
The UK and EU work so closely together in terms of trading and movement that it is almost guaranteed that some kind of agreement will be put into place between the UK Government and the EU. Of course, the format at the moment is currently unclear, but given the huge amount of trade, travel and market movement between the UK and the other countries in the EU, these are all likely to be covered. We would certainly expect the Government to negotiate protection and conditions for the British expats already living across the EU as part of any leaving agreement – as discussed, many countries in Europe rely on the income from British expats and property buyers.
Why you should proceed as normal if you are already planning your overseas property
Property prices in many parts of Europe are still at the lowest they have been for years – although beginning to rise again. The interest in overseas property from Brits has increased dramatically in the last year, meaning these prices are only likely to rise.  Delaying plans to purchase overseas now because of unfounded worries about the UK leaving the EU may mean that you miss out on buying your dream home – especially considering the current strength of sterling!
Protecting against currency risk is more important now than ever
Of course, the strength of sterling may come into play nearer the time, as any uncertainty over the UK’s position is bound to affect the currency markets – and this will also have an effect on your ability to purchase abroad. To ensure you can always take advantage of the best currency rates, we recommend registering with a currency exchange specialist, like our trusted partner, Smart Currency Exchange [SCE link], who can help you stay on top of currency market fluctuation and understand the implications for your personal situation.
What next?
It looks as though it will be around two years before any vote takes place – which is another reason why we are strongly advising our readers to carry on with their plans as normal. After all, a lot can happen in this time – and we are unlikely to see any developments until after the voting.