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The Brexit Vote Happens This Month: Here Are The Potential Real Estate Effects

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The Brexit Vote Happens This Month: Here Are The Potential Real Estate Effects

The British pound fell to a two-month low Monday, 10 days ahead of the country’s vote on whether to leave the EU—and economists and other experts have mixed views on what the economic and real estate effects of Brexit could be.

“My guess is that a Brexit vote in the affirmative will have the additional effect of US real estate managers looking to the UK for CRE, where prices may drop for a while,” Harvard economist and commercial real estate lecturer Ray Torto tells Bisnow, but he adds he doubts the British will take the risk of leaving the EU.

Still, polls over the weekend showed the “leave” (from the EU) vote is in the lead, including one poll carried out for The Independent showing Brits in favor of Brexit leading 55% to 45%.

The Brexit Vote Happens This Month: Here Are The Potential Real Estate Effects

“There is a lot of anger in UK over how the EU makes policy decisions in a number of ways,” Yardi economist Jack Kern (pictured) tells Bisnow. 

Jack went on to say a Brexit could foster creating policies that deter investment into US commercial real estate.

But Brexit may not be all bad for US markets—Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Americas director of research Bob Bach tells Bisnow a short-term market destabilization caused by Brexit could trigger investors to seek the safety of US Treasuries, driving down bond yields and interest rates. 

“It could also draw more direct foreign investment into the relative safety of US CRE at the expense of Europe and the UK,” Bob added, although he maintains that in the long-term EU unification is good for the global marketplace.

The Brexit Vote Happens This Month: Here Are The Potential Real Estate Effects

Bob’s thoughts echo those expressed by Edward Mermelstein (pictured), an attorney who helps high-end buyers from around the world invest in NYC real estate, who told Bisnow last week a Brexit could give more gas to an already-underway shift from London to New York.

“With NYC being the most popular destination outside of London for foreign investment, the likelihood that NYC will be the primary beneficiary is understood just based on the competitive nature between the two cities,” Edward told us. “We’re currently seeing a flow shifting to the US out of the former USSR, as well as many of the Middle Eastern investors—who were very comfortable in the British market.”

The Federal Reserve
The Eccles Building, which houses the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C.

Central bankers around the world have taken a much more negative tone on the UK’s potential departure, with both Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan warning of significant negative economic repercussions, and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney already on watch for a post-Brexit UK recession.

Brexit worries—along with dismal May jobs data—will most likely keep the Fed dovish on another big economic event this month, the decision on whether to hike interest rates at the central bank’s June 14-15 meeting.