The word ‘Brexit’ has been entrenched in our media since its first appearance in a blog by Wilding in 2012. Since then some may argue that the term has become overused. One of the reasons is the uncertainty about what Brexit might actually means in practice; people are struggling to understand the complexity which has led to a surge in articles discussing the pros and cons of what might happen. This uncertainly is having an adverse effect as businesses are nervous about their future.
This article looks at Brexit from the viewpoint of commercial property investors, land agents and developers, and covers worries directly expressed to us by our clients.
Brexit and the UK-Irish border
Major concerns are that Brexit will provide a barrier to the free movement capital, people, goods and services. Both countries joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973 which allowed them to work very closely together for mutual economic benefit. There are now real concerns that Brexit will mean a dismantling of these ties.
Perhaps the best scenario is that the UK government negotiates a trade deal between the UK and the Republic of Ireland which is as open as possible. Without a compromise agreement businesses in the Republic of Ireland might enjoy free trade with distant countries, but not with Northern Ireland or the UK next door! The firm view is that no one wants a hard border reducing free movement of the workforce, goods and services.
With all this uncertainty is there any surprise that people continue to search for ‘Brexit’, seeking answers.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty opportunities are beginning to emerge. Research shows a spike in interest of companies potentially looking to relocate. These include regulated services such as banking, insurance and legal services. While Dublin is currently attracting the most interest, other areas are experiencing an upturn in property enquiries also.
Caroline, our Head of Commercial Property summed up the shift, “For commercial property this presents an investment opportunity.” She added, “The drop in the value of the pound against the Euro since the referendum means that imports such as building materials from the UK may be cheaper. This works in the favour of land agents and developers as relocation is likely to increase the need for residential property as people relocate.”
The evidence is that multinational businesses are already pressing ahead with ‘post-Brexit’ planning in the Republic of Ireland. While the uncertainty around Brexit is likely to continue for the next few years, the early movers are building a new landscape, in readiness for making the next strategic move.
If you would like advice about any of the points raised in this article, please contact our commercial property expert, Caroline, for a free, no-obligation discussion about your situation.