Bad news and worse news for relocating UK expat property owners

Published:  21 Jul at 6 PM
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British expatriates at present living in Europe and planning a return to the UK may well be out of pocket due to an unexpected rise is UK property prices.

As the Brexit-related uncertainty about rights to remain, healthcare and pensions drags on, many formerly settled UK expats living in EU member states may be considering a return to the UK. However, financial worries about the difference between the sales price of their homes in Europe and the rising prices of UK properties may be as stressful as the decision to wait it out for better Brexit news.

Following last year’s referendum, property expats were predicting rapid falls in UK real estate values, but market prices are still increasing in spite of the recent general election results. Official figures from Britain’s Office of National Statistics show an increase of almost five per cent over the past year to the end of May, and figures for recorded sales suggest prices are still rising. Growth patterns vary according to location, but the general trend is still on the up.

In addition, the UK housing market is suffering a severe shortage of supply at all levels, according to a report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Britain’s leading real estate agents’ association. UK citizens heading back to the home country may well be caught in the nightmare scenario of having to sell their overseas home for a vastly reduced price, find extra capital to purchase in the UK and be forced to live in an unsuitable location.

Another report released by foreign property debt experts indicated many UK expats are trapped in negative equity and facing spiralling mortgage repayments, leaving them unable to sell up and relocate to the UK. EU Property Solutions manager James Bell believes it’s hard enough to move overseas, but it’s far tougher to return to the UK in these uncertain times.

A further factor, he says, is the rise in the UK's cost of living and its shock effect on those who’ve lived overseas long-term. The only bright spark in the gloom is that the post-referendum weakness of sterling will work in favour of those moving cash back to the UK for property purchase.
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