A Few Thoughts on Brexit

29 Jun, 2016 by Investors In Property



Brexit 
has been the word on everybody's lips for the last two months. The referendum results are in, the dust has settled somewhat, and Britain will be leaving the EU. The process and the timetable still aren't absolutely certain, but it is now time to look to the future.

We take a look at how Brexit may affect those Brits who own or are thinking of buying a property in the Alps. As Alpine property is a long term investment, it always holds its' value well.

Property rights

Long term, Brexit is unlikely to have much impact on those wishing to realise a personal dream and buy a property in the Alps. After all, people living outside the EU have been buying in the Alps for years. Since Switzerland isn’t in the EU, foreign nationals from the UK will be just as welcome to invest as always. Whatever exit terms will eventually be agreed with the EU one thing is sure - UK residents will still be able to buy property in the EU. For them buying in the Alps will still be an attractive proposition both as a lifestyle and investment.

Currency

In times of uncertainty the Swiss franc is always a strong currency of refuge. While this means that Swiss properties are now more expensive for Brits than a week ago, it is still a smart long term move for those wishing to diversify. The Swiss Franc has always appreciated against the pound if you take any 5 year period since we started selling Swiss property 30 years ago.

With the Euro also falling along with the pound, current GBP \ EUR rates have returned to levels last seen in the first quarter of 2014, and so far the fall out has not been as bad as appeared likely last Friday. Anyone paid in US dollars is the real winner and with the dollar riding high they will get considerably more chalet for their money than before.

Finance

The result of the referendum has arrived at the same time as the lowest mortgage rates of all time in France, at just 2.15%. Over in Switzerland interest rates have historically been low and are likely to get even lower as the Swiss National Bank intervene to stop the CHF strengthening any further.

Swiss banks lend up to 70% loan-to-value to all nationalities so there will be no change there. French banks lend up to 85% to EU citizens and we doubt that will be downgraded for UK residents following a Brexit.

Tax

Once again, there will be no change for those buying Swiss property as Switzerland is not in the EU. Should the UK leave the EU but stay in the EEA, taxation rules for those owning in France and Austria will remain the same. Only if the UK leaves both the EU and the EEA would there be the possibility of UK citizens being treated differently from EU citizens.

Visas

If the UK remains in the EEA then UK citizens will be treated in the same way as Swiss passport holders are treated now - they are not required to apply for visas for travel to an EU country. If we exit completely we may have to apply for visas - that is one of the many issues to be negotiated.

While it is impossible to accurately predict what will happen in the next few years (or even the next few months), the immediate prognosis seems to be that the economic fallout from the Brexit vote is not as bad as was first feared. As we speak, markets are stabilising, and buying ski property remains as attractive an option as always.

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