Brexit negotiations won't begin until the UK government triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which kickstarts the formal process to leave the European Union. That will happen before March 2017, said Prime Minister Theresa May.
But when that final deal comes, what does the residential property sector hope to see in there? IBTimes UK asked a number of different players in the sector what they want from the Brexit deal. Here's what they said.
Paul Smith, chief executive of haart
We need a quick, clean break from the EU, as opposed to drawn-out negotiations. Brexit may or may not mean Brexit, but uncertainty around negotiations certainly does mean uncertainty in the residential property market. This is particularly true for housebuilders who are currently sitting on land, holding off developing until they have more clarity on the outcomes. Clarity on the government's position and guarantees of further investment in housebuilding would stop developers pressing the pause button, as well as provide some relief for Britons worried about whether or not to buy or sell a house.
Fortunately, the residential property market has very few ties to the European Union, and there is very high domestic demand for new homes, so we are not too reliant on overseas buyers. However, greater autonomy would definitely be welcome, and the Mortgage Credit Directive is a good example of unnecessary European bureaucracy that Britain simply does not need. We shouldn't be afraid of Brexit at all – mild economic turbulence is to be expected, but in the long-run our new found freedoms and a reduction in red tape should pay dividends.
Sadly it seems that some members of the government are determined to keep us in the single market, which would effectively mean being a member of the EU and obliged to follow their regulations, without having any say whatsoever in determining the rules. People voted to be free of the EU, so a halfway house deal that would see many Brexit promises reversed must be avoided. The market is robust, but stagnation will ensue unless a clear position is quickly agreed. It's time for Theresa May to bang some heads together and deliver the Brexit the nation voted for.
Nick Davies, head of residential development at Stirling Ackroyd
The shortage of homes compared to the number of aspirational buyers should ensure the residential property market will come through the Brexit process relatively unscathed. However, the current uncertainty is reducing the incentive for people to move home, with many potential buyers and sellers waiting to see what happens with negotiations before moving. Therefore, a relatively quick negotiation process would be beneficial to the residential market.
As the UK isn't building anywhere near enough homes, the housebuilding industry should also be supported during this period of negotiation, with the Autumn Statement and 2017 budget proving as ideal opportunities to extend investment in housebuilding. The country can't afford for the delivery of new homes to slow any further. If it does, house price rises will pick up pace, ensuring it will be even harder for first-time buyers' to get their first foot on the ladder.
In London, it's vital that the strengths of the City and Silicon Roundabout are both preserved and protected. Technology and finance are two key pillars of the UK economy, which will drive the country's future growth. The residential property market relies heavily on their services, with London's market also relying on professionals in these sectors buying homes here, and this has helped to drive the regeneration of much of East London with its close proximity to the City. Highly skilled workers must also retain easy access to the UK to enable them to continue to live, work and buy here.
London's market also depends on its place as one of the world's greatest cities, allowing it to draw in people and investment from across the globe. The current decline in the currency is likely to encourage international buyers and capital, with homes in London now 7% cheaper year-on-year for European buyers and 8% cheaper for Americans. The negotiations should not hinder investment in London or place it's status at risk.
Andrew Smith, chief investment officer of Hearthstone Investments
As a fund manager, Hearthstone focuses on the link between economic growth and property investment performance, so we are looking for a deal that offers the best prospects for economic growth. We favour a "soft" Brexit, retaining access to the single market and without draconian restrictions on the movement of skilled workers and students.
We see this as the best way to secure the future of the UK's financial and service sectors, particularly in London and the south-east, but also the regional economies where major employers are dependent on successful international trade. The government will also need to be clearer on its regional development funding policy as EU aid ends, and it's far from clear where such money would come from.
That said, we think residential property has less to fear from a 'hard' Brexit than commercial real estate. It tends to be more resilient in times of instability and uncertainty: demand depends on the number of households, which isn't affected much by changes in economic conditions. Residential rents are generally a good inflation hedge.
Whatever the eventual deal, the UK has a housing supply shortage. As investors generally want new stock, any restrictions on the supply of skilled construction workers could make a bad problem worse. While existing investors might benefit if undersupply pushed prices higher, it would limit much-needed new institutional investment in the sector.
Giorgio Buttironi, Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the National Federation of Builders
With the Housing Standards Review, the UK already builds excellent quality homes. It doesn't necessarily need to match one-size-fits-all EU regulations to do that. For example, homes in Sweden will have different energy efficiency requirements from those in Cyprus.
Brexit should also mean appropriate policy to deliver homes. Once again a one-size-fits-all approach to procurement doesn't deliver the appropriate output of housing supply. For example, a mandatory upper threshold on government finance for housing projects impacts both financing and procurement.
With an ongoing skills crisis and impending retirements, the government is perfectly placed to tackle the Brexit shortfall by ensuring an appropriate training and upskilling programme is in place. SMEs, who employ workers within a 19-mile radius of their head office, are already positioned to achieve this target.
Steve Turner, spokesman for the Home Builders Federation
I think our main asks are labour – we simply have to maintain access to skilled labour if we are to continue to increase output as required. And stability. We need as stable an economy, and political and policy environment, as possible so that demand remains and the industry can plan ahead.
Chris Norris, head of policy, public affairs and research at the National Landlords Association
I don't think it would be possible to suggest that the UK's residential sector has one coherent wish-list from the UK's exit from the European Union. Brexit is very unlikely to change the stability of residential property as an asset class in the long-term, as most investment originates domestically and is fairly small-scale. Larger investment will likely slow, as funds evaluate the likely impacts, but provided that demand remains strong it will remain viable.
Depending on the eventual decisions concerning the movement of people, local markets which depend on migrant labour may suffer in terms of reduced demand – but it is far too early to say how acute or widespread this could be, if it happens at all. The biggest danger for private landlords in the UK is likely to be that while the British government obsesses over how to extricate the country from the European Union it fails to recognise the devastating impact some of its recent domestic policies are having on the housing market.
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association
With the government introducing criminal sanctions from December for those found to be renting to tenants without the right to reside in the UK, landlords need certainty about the status of EU nationals currently living in their properties.
Until a firm assurance can be given that such tenants will continue to have the right to rent when Brexit begins in 2019, many landlords will likely play it safe and conclude that renting to those from elsewhere in the EU is too much of a risk to take.