Residential Newsletter: Autumn 2019

Meet the Team: Kristal Dales

How long have you worked in the Residential  team at Freeths and why did you decide to join this firm?

After spending four years at a local firm, I recently re-joined Freeths having previously qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer at Henmans Freeth (formerly Henmans) in 2013. I have now worked at Freeths for just over a year and it feels like coming home!

Why did you choose to specialise in Residential Conveyancing?

I started as an office junior at Henmans in 2004 before becoming a secretary in Residential Conveyancing a year later. I find conveyancing really interesting. I like the fact that you are helping people with one of the biggest investments they will ever make. I decided to qualify as a Licensed Conveyancer and did so in 2013.

What has been the most complicated transaction you've been involved in during your career?

The purchase of 66 new build apartments at the same time!

If you could have a meal with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Tom Hanks. He is one of my favourite actors and seems like a genuinely lovely person.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I like to ride as pillion on my husband's motorbike. We have done several tours of Scotland and France.

Survey finds residential property investment downturn will pick up post-Brexit

Autumn 2019 was set to be a key period in the ongoing process to take the UK out of the European Union (EU) with Brexit scheduled to occur at the end of October. Due to Parliamentary interventions designed to prevent a 'no deal' Brexit, a newly agreed 'flextension' has delayed the exit day to 31st January 2020, or earlier if the withdrawal agreement is ratified before then.

In light of the current political and economic environment, Experience Invest (EI) recently carried out an independent survey of more than 1,000 UK-based property investors to gain their insight into the impact of Brexit on the residential property market. There appears to be some cause for investors' concerns; in the 12 months to June 2019, HMRC reported that the volume of residential transactions had fallen by 12.4% and, in the same period, house price growth slowed to the lowest rate since September 2012. In fact, due to the slowing down of market activity, 37% of respondents informed EI that they had removed one or more property listings from the market in the last year. This does not mean that investors are abandoning the residential property market altogether.

Instead, it appears that investors are merely waiting for clarity and confirmation of future policies before continuing with their investment plans. Across the UK, 55% of property investors disclosed that they were awaiting the outcome of Brexit before investing. This figure leapt up to 71% for London-based property investors. In a further call for governmental guidance, 59% of investor respondents said they would delay making financial commitments until the 2019 Autumn Budget had taken place. As we now know, the 2019 Autumn Budget was scrapped by the Chancellor following the Brexit extension and a general election will now take place in mid-December.

Those that took part in the survey seemed keen to monitor the potential for fluctuations within the residential property market before making investment commitments. 52% of investors reported they were attentively watching potential investment opportunities to see if the October Brexit deadline would impact prices. Interestingly, only 31% of investors believed the value of their property portfolios would be negatively impacted by the planned exit from the EU.

Looking forward, there is a strong argument for the residential property market remaining an attractive investment opportunity; 60% of respondents were actively seeking new property investments and 54% of those surveyed confirmed that they believed investment in the residential property market was a safe haven for their funds. In good news for the market, 51% of property investors thought there would be a swell in property activity once 31st October had passed. Unfortunately, the exit day extension is likely to delay the expected upturn in activity. So, although transactions have fallen in the short-term and Brexit delays will cause further uncertainty, EI's survey suggests that the long-term outlook for the residential property market remains a positive one.

Chambers & Partners High Net Worth Rankings 2019

Chambers & Partners are widely regarded as a Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession. This guide ranks law firms and solicitors in over 70 specialist areas of law. The rankings are a result of research undertaken by over 200 researchers who conduct thousands of interviews on law firms' technical legal ability, client service, commercial vision and business understanding, diligence, depth of legal teams, and value for money.

Here is some of the feedback Chambers & Partners has published:

The residential property team at Freeths was described as "excellent" by one market commentator. This national firm advises on high-value residential property transactions, including landlord and tenant matters and leasehold enfranchisement. Sources praised the team and one market insider noting that "they're diligent, helpful and approachable."

Another property commentator remarked: "They're always available and give sensible, considered advice." A solicitor adds that "they're very efficient and very friendly." If you would like to discuss any of the topics in this newsletter please do not hesitate to give us a call.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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