With bookmakers now offering the shortest ever odds on the UK voting to leave the EU, some homes are being sold subject to the outcome of next week’s referendum.
In a desperate bid to stem the slowdown in the UK housing market, it has emerged that some of the country’s leading estate agents and housebuilders are reportedly offering ‘nervous’ buyers “Brexit clauses” permitting them to back out of deals if Britain votes to leave the EU, as many property professionals fear that an ‘Out’ vote could trigger a housing market crash.
According to the Telegraph, major estate agents including Savills and Knight Frank and developers including Barratt Homes have been convincing anxious purchasers to proceed with transactions by writing the newly-devised agreements into their contracts.
The clauses are being requested by UK and overseas buyers and mean they are not required to exchange contracts until after the vote, enabling them to back out of a deal without losing any money if they are unhappy with the outcome of the referendum.
Jeremy Raj, a partner at Wedlake Bell, a law firm which represents a number of private clients, told the newspaper: “We have had already had clients requesting we negotiate for them the ability to withdraw from purchases if there is a Brexit vote, and it is clear that the uncertainty of the outcome of the referendum has had an effect on the market already.
“Foreign and domestic buyers and sellers appear acutely aware that there could be a significant re-calibration of house prices post 23 June, and nobody wants to be caught out. As always, uncertainty and a lack of confidence are the enemy of market activity.”
‘Brexit clauses’ are also increasingly being used to help ‘unfreeze’ the commercial property sector, following a sharp fall in commercial property transactions in recent months owed largely to uncertainty over Brexit.