The possibility of striking a Brexit deal before the weekend has helped to stabilise the pound as it recovered some ground, on Thursday. However, tensions are building ahead of the weekend as talks continue. This means that any Brexit-related headlines will create pound volatility and move the market considerably.

The clock is ticking

While markets are hopeful that a deal will be reached, the fact that the clock is now ticking with little space for manoeuvres means that the pound will remain sensitive. The Telegraph reported that Barnier told EU ambassadors that the UK has become more flexible and lowered its demands in regard to UK waters post-Brexit, demonstrating that the two sides are closer to an agreement. Fisheries and governance remain unresolved, with the latter to be negotiated once all other agreements are settled. Talks could now focus on the percentages involved in fisheries, but France might prove to be uncompromising on its fishing demands. According to The Telegraph, "Fishing nations such as France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain fear Mr Barnier may cave too easily to British demands as talks enter their endgame. Paris insists the UK red line of annual fishing negotiations is unacceptable.” France has already clarified that it will veto any deal that goes against their interests.

A report in The Times said that "France and other hard-line countries are pushing for no deal in Brexit talks to soften up Britain before a reset in negotiations next year, unless the government makes significant concessions in the coming days," and unless the UK "backs down over the next 48 hours", a period of 'no deal' will "bring a chastened Britain back to the table next year".

The BBC's Europe Editor Katya Adler said that Brussels believe a deal will be possible in the event that the UK makes significant steps to meet the demands regarding fisheries, competition rules and governance.

Talks continue in London

Negotiations are at the final stages, but it appears that any last hurdles will require, maybe not divine intervention, but at least some help from leaders from the UK, EU Commission and France. Both Wednesday and Thursday, saw negotiators working well into the night for the final push.

On Friday, The Telegraph reported that talks will find Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron coming head to head this weekend, with France interested in securing access to fish in British waters.

According to certain sources, Macron's officials have been "lobbying hard" among different member states to agree to added demands on fishing, state subsidies and non-regression clauses, and these will be discussed by both the PM and the French president over the weekend.

EU member states could also veto any deal as they continue to have concerns about state aid mechanisms and how to enforce agreed environmental and labour standards. France and Denmark are reluctant to lose their fishing shares in UK waters.

Indeed, there is not much time left now, as negotiations continue and the upcoming EU leaders’ meeting on 10 and 11 December 10-11 means that a final deal needs to be ready to be agreed. Sterling will make significant gains if a deal is announced in the coming weeks and it could potentially continue to rise.

 

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Buying property overseas can be a stressful experience especially after the spread of the coronavirus and European countries’ lockdowns. However, you might not need to postpone your dream of buying a house abroad, as agents, notaries and lawyers have found new ways to respond to the situation.

Viewing a property

While you cannot be present materially to view your dream home, as countries such as Spain and France are on a state of emergency, many agencies continue to serve their clients through virtual tours and other online materials as an article in the Financial Times has pointed out. French agency Leggett Immobilier  state on their website that are open for business but can’t offer property visits. What they do offer, though, for the moment, is “a mix of videos, virtual tours, floor plans and additional photos.” They say that their agents are available to speak with clients through the telephone or video conference, and vendors willing “to do facetime or skype visits with you online.”

Proof of ID

While many viewings might have been postponed due to travel bans, agents and notaries are completing most paperwork online with the use of digital signatures, scanning and emailing documents or customers giving power of attorney (POA) to their lawyers. As the French agency says, their clients can give a “power of attorney” so they “don’t need to be physically present at either exchange or completion” when they purchase a property. While individual notaries might “have different interpretations of what is currently acceptable,” they note that clients’ agents will be able to clarify the current status of any purchase they have made.

According to Leggett, purchases continue with notaries accepting proof of ID by e-sign software such as web portals DocuSign and Yousign, without needing certification by a notary in the UK. The use of video conference and video links can also be used so that the notary can see the clients in real time signing the documents.

It is believed that the use of electronic signature in signing contracts remotely will continue and become more widespread over the coming weeks, especially when clients have already viewed the property and have already agreed on a price prior to the lockdown.

Flexible Dates

If you have already found your home and are in the middle of completing the purchase, then using a flexible completion date can ensure that the sale still progresses smoothly for both parties. Solicitor at My Lawyer in Spain Alex Radford says that they are suggesting a future completion date of at least two months which should be included when signing the documents. “There needs to be a clause inserted that states ‘completion will be by ‘x’ date or earlier by agreement or later if the parties or their legal representatives cannot attend completion due to Covid-19 crisis,’” he says. Radford clarifies that only documents of an urgent nature are signed, while other legal work is postponed, according to the notary’s criteria.

Agreeing on a flexible date is important, as this will guarantee securing your funds and progressing with the purchase. The FT article notes that having a “‘safety-net’ clause that allows buyers to pull out if they cannot secure a mortgage,” or extending target days will protect buyers as well as sellers who fear that their property might be devalued after the coronavirus.

If you are in the process of buying your dream home, there is no reason to panic. Jacqui Reddin, Head of Sales Development at Beaux Villages, says that staying in touch with your agent and remaining informed is the best way to move forward. She clarifies that they “are still actively dealing with ongoing sales and even have new ones since lockdown. The buying process is bound to take a bit longer, but if we all stay connected things will start to flow more smoothly.”

In regards to financial concerns over transferring your money abroad or currency exchange, keeping in touch with your currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can give you peace of mind and help you navigate the unexpected volatility of currency markets. If you want to schedule ahead and safeguard your funds, talk to one of their foreign exchange experts today.

Buying property abroad in Brexit times can be stressful, especially when Boris Johnson, the new PM, has announced that the government will be setting aside an extra £2.1bn for preparations in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Nonetheless, many Brits continue to move to France, despite being considered a costly decision and one of the most expensive countries in the region. But, with its lifestyle, amazing food and cheap wine, and the fact that housing can be quite affordable in certain regions, make France one of the most attractive places to call a second home.

Brexit update

The extra no-deal Brexit funds will be used for stockpiling medicines, adding 500 more border officials and paying for a public awareness campaign about disruption. Johnson’s government aims to convince the European Union that the UK can handle a no-deal Brexit, and it will be able to do so, in three months, on 31 October. Johnson has clarified that he prefers to reach a deal with the EU.

Sajid Javid, the new chancellor, will provide a cash boost of £1.1bn with an extra £1bn available if needed, which means that this year’s spending will increase to £6.3bn.

Labour has criticised the spending which is an “appalling waste of tax-payers’ cash, all for the sake of Boris Johnson’s drive towards a totally avoidable no deal.” John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “This government could have ruled out no deal, and spent these billions on our schools, hospitals, and people. Labour is a party for the whole of the UK, so we’ll do all we can to block a no-deal, crash-out Brexit, and we’ll deliver a transformative economic policy that delivers for the many, not the few.”

Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons public accounts committee said: “Just because Boris Johnson is making it sound like he’s fighting a war, with seven-days-a-week meetings in Whitehall, that is not licence to spend taxpayers’ money like water, throwing good money after bad. It is of course responsible for a government to be prepared for an emergency. But this is an emergency of the government’s own making – boring though it may be that taxpayers’ money could be spent on essential public services. There isn’t much headroom. There is a bit more than there was but not much. And I don’t think his spending pledges add up.”

The business group the CBI warned that neither the UK nor the EU are prepared for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, as certain “aspects cannot be mitigated.” The Institute for Goverment on Monday said that there was “no such thing as a managed no deal” and that a “clean break” from the EU is just impossible.

In the meantime, conservative MPs are considering how they can stop a no-deal Brexit if Johnson decides to leave without a deal. Many of us are also considering escaping to France, as Brexit chaos appears unresolved and the situation in the UK is becoming more complicated day by day.

France

While data comparison from Eurostat shows that France “is one of the more expensive places in the EU, with most categories being above the EU average,” British expats still consider the place as an ideal destination for certain reasons. While Paris together with Singapore and Hong Kong are “the world’s most expensive cities,” according to The Economist, there are other places and equally attractive options in other parts of France.

Truth be told, cars can also be expensive, while bringing one with you from the UK and registering it after six months can be a complicated and expensive process. According to The Local, white goods, electronics, DIY equipment and building materials for house renovations, were listed among Brits’ most expensive items.

However, the cheap price of wine in France and its unparalleled quality is incredibly alluring. Especially, if you decide to live in the countryside, restaurants offer cheap meals but high quality. According to a British expat quoted in The Local: “All the villages within a 40km radius of me have small restaurants where I can get a superb lunch for €13-14 with ‘buffet à volonte', main course, cheese, dessert, coffee and red wine included. And the quality is way above any café I would find in the UK.” Drinking and eating local, as well as going to the cinema are some of the amazing and cheap things you can do in France.

Most importantly, the affordable properties you can find is an important incentive. According to The Local, “almost all readers named house prices as one of the country's big benefits.” Nigel Day in Charente said: “The price of houses, whether renting or buying (except in big cities and the Mediterranean strip) is still a bargain, although nothing like it was 15 years ago.” With cheaper "annual housing taxes,” Brits still consider France an ideal home.

If you are interested in buying a property in France, get in touch with Universal Partners FX to discuss the most affordable ways to transfer your funds and protect them from currency volatility due to Brexit. UPFX are foreign exchange experts with years of experience in the financial markets and can offer assistance to move your funds safely and fast. Give them a call today and find out how much you can save or your international money transfers.

Brexit

France and Spain’s property markets are among the favorites for many Brits, despite Brexit. In many ways, Brexit did not change Brits’ desire to move permanently to France or Spain, indeed, it has, paradoxically made it stronger. With Brexit strategy in tatters, the UK confused about its own European identity and a climate that cannot compete with that of sunny Spain, for example, many are determined to look for a home overseas.

Uncertainties of moving abroad

Planning to purchase property abroad is a long process, and for those who have already started or are in the midst of deciding, there is nothing that can really stop them, not even the uncertainty of Brexit. Nonetheless, there are worries about their new life in Europe. For instance, many Brits worry about the lack of affordable healthcare, long legal processes of buying property, or just simply maintaining their property back in the UK due to a weak pound. But these are issues that can be tackled, to a certain extent. Finding a place in the sun to retire is perhaps a bigger enough reason that propels Brits to move abroad, even though they are aware of the possible problems. A peaceful life in the countryside is definitely more attractive, than remaining trapped in a little house back home. Enjoying a higher standard of life is a solid fact that cannot be shaken by the uncertainties of the process or the current unstable political landscape. As many have enjoyed the perks of living abroad through their regular visits and holidays overseas, it is very difficult to resist the lure of the good weather and of long cool nights under starry skies.

More European because of Brexit?

With the European elections taking place from the 23 to 26 May, it is impossible to forget Brexit. It is interesting to see how it has affected Brits in the way they perceive themselves. According to Radio France Internationale, 23-year-old English au pair Emma has been in France since August and despite coming from Thetford, where many voted for Brexit, she feels European and wants to live in Europe. It was, ironically, Britain’s decision to leave the EU that pushed her to move to another country. Like many other Brits living abroad, Brexit has affected their decision and made them understand the benefits of their European heritage. As the article reported, “the Brexit decision has created practical problems for them but also raised questions about identity.”

Sterling and Brexit

Whether motivated by Brexit or your own personal desires and wants, the decision to move overseas comes with a lot of considerations. One of the biggest ones is making your money go further, and taking advantage of currency volatility so that it does not affect your savings. Everyone has noticed that this week the pound has suffered against the euro due to turmoil in Downing Street affecting currency markets worldwide.

The fact that Theresa May’s premiership is now being questioned after her failure to get approval for her Brexit deal, has impacted on the pound, which dropped against the euro.

Theresa May’s time is coming to an end. Initially against Brexit and later having to negotiate a deal— which for many hardcore backbenchers and hardline Brexiteers was not desirable or close to what the British people have voted for in the 2016 referendum—May was given an almost impossible task. Her replacement and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit are now appearing to be, not only the stuff of nightmares, but also a reality leading currency traders to avoid the pound.

Buying property overseas is a complex process and having a trusted currency broker by your side is a massive advantage when it comes to the current movement of the pound. Universal Partners FX can help you navigate a volatile market and transfer money internationally, mitigating the negative effects of Brexit and a weak pound, and ensuring that your funds are not impacted by exchange rates. Get in touch today with your currency dealer and find out how much you can save on your currency transfers.