If you are considering buying a dream home abroad or simply investing in a desirable location where you can rent your property or relocate for good, then you must have looked at Spain as your top destination. Well, you were not wrong, as Spain continues to top the list for places to relocate or buy a property abroad.

According to iProperty Management’s research, Spain, which is already the top destination for Brits,  was the most searched for country, with 690,360 searches, 37,600 of which were from UK internet users. Following Spain, with less than 194,000 searches was Canada.

Spain is especially popular with Brits who made up 69% of expats in 2018. According to the data, those who want to invest in a property that will see demand from expatriates looking to relocate, should consider Spain. Among the top five, France and Portugal have also been a favourite location for Brits and the two countries saw 484,800 and 212,280 searches, respectively.

The interest in these countries does not simply result from the fact they are beautiful and desirable locations for retirement or for vacation. They are members of the EU and thus residents living in each of them are allowed to move and work freely.

 Spain is cheaper than London!

If you are hoping to get onto the property ladder, Spain is a good option. There are plenty of reasons for that as the number of expats in the Costa del Sol could attest. But beautiful location, gorgeous buildings, sunny beaches and good food can simply explain why you would want to settle there.

If you are buying property, the choice of buying within a gated community such as those located in the towns of San Pedro de Alcantara and Estepona, can offer security and peace. According to the Olive Press, a three bedroom apartment in Estepona  will cost around £200K, whereas the same amount could only get you a studio apartment in London, for example.

Places such as Marbella and Banus are also appealing due to the fact that they are secure and provide a great lifestyle. But also other areas on the Costa del Sol such as Casares Costa. Estepona, for example is only 20 minutes west of Marbella and is relatively cheaper than other more sought-after locations while offering a more authentic flavour of Spain. Guadalmina Ata poses a more pricey location where one can purchase beautiful properties exceeding €2 million.

For many Brits, and due to Covid-19 and Brexit, Spain appears to be the ultimate destination where they can retire and feel secure, while remaining part of the EU. Indeed, the number of Brits buying property in Spain has risen a lot recently due to Brexit.

Just looking at the data showing where Brits are registered in Spain, is indicative of the places and the kind of appeal they have for different age groups. The British community is concentrated along the coast, in Alicante and Málaga, and more than a third of residents are over 65. Madrid and Barcelona are a favourite among the younger generations who want to work and enjoy a more busy lifestyle.

Currency Exchange

If you are buying a holiday home in Spain, it is important to consult a specialist foreign exchange company such as Universal Partners FX right from the start. UPFX can help you manage currency fluctuations by locking the rate, as the final price of your home could vary significantly from the time you made your offer.

When moving large amounts of cash, it is best to get in touch with UPFX’s currency specialists where they can offer you competitive exchange rates and the best value for your money. Find out what your money is worth by giving them a call or requesting a free quote.

International businesses have been preparing for Brexit while carefully watching updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic and slow economic recovery. On Friday, news that the UK borrowed a record of £35.9bn in August, with borrowing since August hitting £173.7bn, while factory output dropped 44% last month, have added to concerns of a weakening economic recovery.

Importers and Exporters Facing New Customs Controls

UK cabinet minister Michael Gove, in a letter to logistics groups, has already stressed the government's analysis in regards to the potential disruptions that could affect importers and exporters once the Brexit transition period ends.

The cabinet document stated that queues of up to 7,000 trucks might form in Kent, resulting in two-day delays in the worst possible scenario. The document also said that, "Irrespective of the outcome of negotiations between the UK and EU, traders will face new customs controls and processes. Simply put, if traders, both in the UK and EU, have not completed the right paperwork, their goods will be stopped when entering the EU and disruption will occur."

On a more general note, but equally worrying, reacting to Brexit, JPMorgan has decided to move $230 billion in assets from London to its Frankfurt-based subsidiary in Germany.

UK Borrowing Increases, as Car Production Drops

Britain’s economy has been terribly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as it was announced on Friday. The government borrowed £35.9bn last month according to the Office for National Statistics. The UK has now borrowed £173.7bn since the start of the financial year in April, as a result of the pandemic. August’s borrowing has pushed the UK’s national debt to £2,023.9bn, and the ONS estimates that UK borrowing could exceed £372bn for the current financial year.

The ONS says the increase in borrowing was caused by a fall in tax receipts, and the ongoing cost of protecting the economy. Central government tax receipts are estimated to have been £37.3 billion in August 2020 and central government bodies are estimated to have spent £78.5 billion on day-to-day activities (current expenditure) in August 2020. Britain can borrow at record lows and the Bank of England is prepared to expand its bond-buying QE programme (currently £745bn) if it is deemed necessary.

According to the Financial Times’ Chris Giles, today’s borrowing figures, do not include expected government costs: “The UK’s public finances have continued on a path towards a record peacetime deficit in 2020-21, with the central government borrowing £221.2bn in the first five months of the financial year to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Although that figure was lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility, the fiscal watchdog, had expected, the official statistics are yet to incorporate expected losses on government-backed loans to companies and £24bn of new spending for the NHS, vaccines and coronavirus testing the Treasury revealed on Thursday. The £221.2bn central government cash requirement between April and August was 11 times greater than the highest ever cash borrowing figure at this point in the financial year since equivalent records began 36 years ago.”

August’s borrowing reflects higher spending to tackle the coronavirus pandemic as over £10bn was spent on the retention and self-employment schemes in August.

Car Manufacturing Falls

Additionally, UK car manufacturing declined -44.6% in August with the ongoing coronavirus crisis making efforts to increase output more difficult as demand overseas has weakened. Production this year is down -40.2% with a loss of 348,821 units.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has reported that the UK car manufacturing fell 44% last month compared with August 2019. Factories’ exports and domestic orders fell dramatically.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “These are increasingly disturbing times for UK car makers and suppliers with the coronavirus crisis weighing heavily on the sector. Companies are bracing for a second wave with tighter social and business restrictions making the industry’s attempts to restart even more challenging.”

Are you a Business Transferring Funds Abroad?

If you are an exporter or importer and worried about your international trade costs, and the volatility of the British pound, you should get professional assistance when transferring funds abroad. Get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out about efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your business’s transfer needs.

There are many incentives to buying property overseas, especially when you choose to buy your dream home in a place such as Portugal. From the beautiful countryside to its beach resorts and golf communities, Portugal has a lot to offer. For those investors who are looking for a good opportunity, the country’s low taxes and its strong rental market are key to seal the deal.

But how is the current property market, and how does Brexit and Covid-19 affect your buying plans?

The price of a property can be severely impacted by various factors such as the state of the economy, both in the country of residence and in the country you are buying in, as well as supply and demand. You might also want to consider that the investment you are making now will not be affected by the political climate in the specific country. 2020 has been a difficult year, as many countries, including the UK are still dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the prospect of further lockdowns, while Brexit is still looming in the near distance.  The pandemic has deeply hurt economies and has inevitably hurt property prices home and abroad, making earlier investments seem more affordable now, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  

Brexit will accelerate the process of buying a home

British buyers are trying to secure their property abroad and their right to residency by buying before the Brexit deadline. Estate agents predict that the autumn will be a busy time for buyers dominated by higher property prices until the end of December, indicating that it is perhaps better to start your research now and ensure you do not pay more for a house you could have got much cheaper earlier.

Portugal, for example, has taken steps to attract British buyers, especially retirees by offering attractive tax schemes. Portugal is ranked the best country in the world for expatriates.

NHR Tax Status

In 2009, the Portuguese government introduced the Non-Habitual Tax Resident status (NHR) to attract high value residents, and it offered reduced tax rates and some exemptions for the first ten years in the country. Until recently, NHR allowed most foreign pension income to be tax-free. However, the 2020 Portuguese Budget introduced new changes to the NHR approved by the Portuguese Parliament on Thursday 6th February 2020. According to it, there will be a 10% tax on the foreign revenue of British pensioners and other foreigners who move to Portugal, with those living there before 2020 not being affected. If you already have NHR status or applied for Portuguese residence before 1 April 2020, when the new regime came into effect, you can still be eligible for exemptions on your UK pension income for the remainder of your ten-year NHR period.

No matter what, the tax is much lower than that charged in other countries such as the UK and significantly lower than the Portuguese income tax rates of 14.5% to 48%. It is still considered very attractive to foreigners.

The proposed changes come to address specific tax regimes and visa schemes that offer EU residency rights in return for property purchases. Retired Portuguese nationals and residents outside the NHR regime cannot access such tax breaks, there has also been pressure for change from within Portugal itself.

Whether low taxes or the Portuguese lifestyle itself seem appealing to you, real estate agents argue that now is the right time to buy and transfer your money abroad to complete your property purchase. They see that confidence will soon return to the market by the autumn of 2021 and that the first few months of the year will present an even bigger opportunity to buy.

If you are a British buyer, and want to secure a strong investment opportunity, now is the time to get in touch with your currency broker. A currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can help you navigate the current market while taking into consideration your specific needs, goals and your budget.

When considering buying your dream home in Portugal, Universal Partners FX can give you peace of mind when sending money overseas. If you want to schedule ahead and safeguard your funds, talk to one of their foreign exchange experts today.

The pound was pulled from different directions yesterday, as on the one hand, the Bank of England hinting at negative interest rates pushed it lower, and on the other hand, positive Brexit news helped lift it.

The pound fell after the Bank of England said that it is considering how to use negative interest rates and it will discuss with regulators how to efficiently implement them. The pound dropped sharply after the announcement.

As quoted on Bloomberg, Valentin Marinov, head of foreign exchange research and strategy at Credit Agricole SA, said: “Negative rates are the nuclear option. It could ultimately push the pound into uncharted territory of losing whatever is left of its rate advantage.”

A Brexit Trade Deal is Still Possible

Despite the negative news, there was a glimpse of positivity on Thursday after the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that she remains "convinced" that an EU-UK trade deal is still possible, which helped the pound recover. Von der Leyen, speaking to the Financial Times, said: "I am still convinced it can be done. It is better not to have this distraction questioning an existing international agreement that we have, but to focus on getting this deal done, this agreement done - and time is short." Another EU diplomat said that "we should not overreact... We will continue negotiations because there are two separate tracks: one is the one which the UK has decided to violate, and the other is the future relationship."

If markets maintain a similar view that a trade deal is possible then the pound will be supported.

Bank of England’s Negative Interest Rate Surprise

After the Bank unexpectedly said that it was considering the possibility to cut interest rates to 0% or below in the coming months, to help support the economy, the pound fell.  There have never been any negative interest rates before in the UK and if the Bank moves ahead with changing the rates to record lows, this could really shake the financial system, especially due to the UK’s current account deficit. As Pound Sterling Live noted, this could leave “the UK's financial system, and Pound Sterling in particular, exposed to capital withdrawals from foreign investors.”

The shocking revelation was found within the Bank’s minutes to the meeting where it stated that it would start a "structured engagement" with the Prudential Regulation Authority in order to potentially cut interest rates to negative.

Senior market analyst at Western Union, Joe Manimbo said: "The U.K. Pound staged a swoon after the Bank of England dropped clear signals that it was edging closer to implementing negative borrowing rates. The big news was that officials were actively studying plans to push rates below zero given the ‘unusually uncertain’ economic outlook. Central bankers noted better data of late but signalled heightened concern related to Covid uncertainty, expectations of a sharp rise in unemployment and potential Brexit shocks."

However, some economists believe that the Bank will not push interest rates into negative territory and the recent news is part of the Bank’s research into negative interest rates rather than something more solid and definite.

But as Bloomberg said, a no-deal Brexit might just be the trigger for the BoE to use negative rates: “It’s becoming increasingly likely that if the economy is blown off course next year, the central bank could employ sub-zero rates.”

With the UK struggling to contain coronavirus infections, the imposition of new lockdown restrictions, unemployment and a disruptive Brexit could make the situation in the UK very difficult and push the Bank to make some hard decisions.

 

Are you Transferring Funds Abroad?

If you are worried about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and the British currency falling even further, you should get professional assistance when transferring funds abroad. Whether you are sending money to family or friends, paying employees overseas, or managing regular payments abroad, you need to protect your international payments’ budget from market volatility. Get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out about efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your transfer needs.

Fears that Britain will leave the European Union without any trade agreement sent the pound to new 5-1/2-month lows on Friday, despite the UK economic recovery and a new trade deal with Japan. Businesses are as worried as ever as Boris Johnson’s government continues to defy calls from the EU to be more flexible and meet its demands. With Johnson’s latest controversial bill, businesses that export and import goods from/to Ireland are in a precarious position.

Theresa May, the former prime minister, asked: “How can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?”

Worst week for the pound

Reuters reported that this is the worst week for the pound both against the euro and the dollar since mid-March. The fall was the result of reports that “Brussels has stepped up planning for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government refused to revoke an ultimatum on breaking the divorce treaty which Brussels says will sink four years of Brexit talks.”

Klaus Baader, global chief economist at Societe Generale said: “The probability between a deal and no-deal are definitely shifting towards a no deal -- that is very clear. The risk of a no-deal is increasing every day.” Morgan Stanley also said that the risk of Britain exiting on “WTO terms” had risen to 40% compared to 25% earlier.

UK Rejects EU’s Demands, as Brexit Uncertainty Increases

The EU has warned the UK that the controversial elements of the Internal Market Bill are illegal and that it will need to remove them by the end of the month. Tories have also criticised Boris Johnson’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which will be debated on Monday by MPs in the House of Commons.

The new bill puts into question the Northern Ireland protocol, which is part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement approved in January. The protocol ensures that the province will come under the European Union’s single-market rules in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland. However, the new law would give UK ministers the right to change rules regarding the movement of goods if the UK and EU are unable to reach a trade deal. A government spokesman said that the bill will "ensure the government can always deliver on its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland". The bill tries to bypass the formal discussions and bend the rules to deliver Brexit at all costs.

The EU said that these new changes needed to be removed as they jeopardise the UK-EU trade talks. But the government has defied the EU saying that the PM’s proposed bill seeks to protect the “integrity of the UK and the peace process in Northern Ireland.”

On Monday, informal talks between the two sides will resume as differences remain and Brexit appears as uncertain as ever. With the UK government referring to the EU’s lack of realism, one would perhaps question whether discussions will reach any agreement or things would soon diverge even further.

The next official round of talks will begin on 28 September.

Positive News Fails to Lift the Pound

News that the UK has struck its first major “historic” post-Brexit trade deal with Japan has done little to offer substantial support to the pound. The deal will boost trade by about £15bn and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said that it would bring "new wins" for British businesses in manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries. However, critics said that the deal will only slightly boost the UK GDP by only 0.07%, which is not comparable to the trades that will be lost by leaving the EU. Britain said that 99% of its exports to Japan would be tariff-free.

But neither this news helped support the pound, neither the fact that the Office for National Statistics reported that UK economic output grew by 6.6% in July as pubs, restaurants and other sectors reopened.

Are you a Business Transferring funds abroad?

With businesses worried about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and the British currency remaining sensitive to Brexit uncertainty, you should get professional assistance when transferring funds abroad. Whether you are importing or exporting goods, paying employees overseas, or managing regular payments abroad, you need to be prepared and protect your business and bottom line from market volatility. Get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out about efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your business’ transfer needs.

Plans for buying property may have been postponed for a while due to the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions, but as these begin to ease, Brits’ interest in foreign property has been reignited. Now cities in such European countries as Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece are sought after, as Brits’ love for warm climes and sandy beaches has been rekindled.

Costa del Sol in Andalusia, southern Spain, has always been one of the most sought-after locations for Brits and will continue to remain one of the most desirable places for property investment.  While the real estate market has suffered considerably during the coronavirus crisis, since 18th May when viewings have been permitted again, there has been an increase in requests, boosting confidence that the real estate market will undergo a quick recovery.

Costa del Sol

Famous for its beautiful beaches, art and culture, amusement and national parks, the birthplace of Picasso has always been among Brits’ favourite places, both for their holidays, but also for living and buying property.

Its beauty and popularity have not faded due to the pandemic. Instead, luxury villas and high-end developments in hot spots have retained their value. Other areas might become even more overpriced, while other less sought-after locations might have more realistic prices. According to Olive Press, “when it comes to new developments along the Costa del Sol, again, this wonderfully touristy area ensures a healthy outlook. The construction industry is seeking help to ease it through these difficult times, with calls to rethink new construction tax and bureaucratic processes.”

What to consider

  • Prices and Currency Volatility: The cost of a European property in Sterling can change drastically due to currency volatility as a result of political, economic or other events such as the current pandemic. Markets will always be moving, and prices will remain unpredictable, especially with Brexit uncertainty, the Bank of England’s possible move into negative interest rate territory and the increasing worries about the slow economic recovery.
  • Brexit: This is another topic that is likely to concern home buyers as there might be significant changes in regulations including the stamp duty and increased taxation. Despite the uncertainty, UK citizens will be able to buy homes abroad and live there. You will be able to stay, if you are legally resident in Spain before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, but you will need to register as a Spanish resident if you want to stay in Spain for more than 3 months. If you are living in Spain before 1 January 2021 and register as a resident after 6 July 2020, you will be issued with a biometric residence card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). If you move to Spain after 31 December 2020, there will be different immigration requirements.
  • Your strategy when transferring funds: Since you will be transferring a large amount of funds, you will need to consider how much that will worth after the exchange. Getting in touch with a currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can help you navigate the current market while taking into consideration your specific needs, goals and your budget.

If you are considering buying your dream home in Spain, get in touch with Universal Partners FX so you can have peace of mind when sending a large amount of money overseas. If you want to schedule ahead and safeguard your funds, talk to one of their foreign exchange experts today.

The British Pound has remained under pressure on Friday, especially after Thursday’s losses due to disappointing news that the Brexit negotiations have hit an impasse. Today’s (24/07/2020) better than expected retail sales did not help push the pound higher against its major rivals.

Brexit and Covid-19

Despite positive macroeconomic data, the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about the state of the Brexit trade negotiations have weighed on the pound. As the Guardian reported, on Friday morning the release of “the retail figures are doing little to support UK stocks with the FTSE 100 down 1.36% and the more domestically focused FTSE 350 down 0.6%.”

Positive Retail Sales’ Numbers

The easing of lockdown in mid-June helped UK retail sales beat forecasts in June. The Office for National Statistics has reported a 13.9% month-on-month rise in UK retail sales last month, marking an 8% uptick. Even for former Bank of England policymaker Andrew Sentence, the figures highlighted that the UK was on its recovery since the Covid-19 outbreak. The retail sales’ increase was the result of consumers spending for DIY and home improvement products due to the lockdown, with shops selling hardware, furniture and appliances doing particularly well, and reaching near-pre-lockdown sale levels.

With the easing of lockdown measures, consumers preferred real physical shops rather than online shopping, as the ONS noted that the proportion of online sales retreated from its record peak in May. Online spending, however, remained at 31.8%, higher than February’s 20%. UK total retail sales are now just 0.6% lower than February before the lockdown.

ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said:

“Retail continued to recover from the sharp falls seen in April, with overall sales now almost back to pre-pandemic levels. But there are some dramatic differences in sales across the retail industry. Food sales continue above their pre-pandemic levels due to the closure of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Online sales have risen to record levels, and now count for £3 in every £10 spent. On the other hand, clothing sales remain depressed and across the high street sales in non-food stores are down by around one-third on pre-pandemic levels. The latest three months as a whole still saw the weakest quarterly growth on record.”

With the exclusion of fuel sales, due to the lockdown and limited travelling, the level of sales was 2.4% higher than in February. According to figures, Britain’s economy shrank by more than a quarter in March and April and recovered slightly in May.

Is the UK economy recovering?

Former Bank of England policymaker Andrew Sentence said that the figures highlighted the UK was on its recovery since the Covid-19 outbreak. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has also pointed to a V-shaped recovery with the economy growing by around 1% a week, something that many of his colleagues have questioned. The British Retail Consortium said that spending among large high-street chains was 3.4% higher this June than last year.

As investors await the release of more figures to confirm expectations of a sustained economic recovery, the pound will remain under stress with Brexit as well as the growing number of deaths from Covid-19. If you are buying a home overseas or want to transfer funds to family and friends living abroad, get in touch with our friendly  Universal Partners FX team. UPFX’s dedicated foreign exchange specialists can help you access the most competitive exchange rates and make your currency transfers stress-free.

The British Pound pushed higher after investor sentiment improved due to the positive news that a deal between EU leaders have been reached. The euro also rose higher. The deal includes €1.8tn in spending, with a €750bn rescue fund to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. €390bn out of the €750bn will be made in grants.

Brexit trade negotiations a key driver for the pound

However, Sterling continues to remain under pressure as Brexit developments can thwart sentiment, while any updates from the Bank of England in relation to negative interest rates can also create further concerns.

Brexit negotiations will take place from Tuesday to Thursday and will cover such issues as trade in goods, fisheries, energy, transport and participation in certain EU programmes. The round will end with a plenary session on Thursday. The Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier will hold a press conference and investors will be watching to see any signs of progress regarding the latest round of EU-UK trade negotiations which will significantly boost Sterling.

Brexit trade deal and Tory rebellion

Boris Johnson faces a rebellion from Tories who want to pass an amendment to the Trade Bill that will allow the House of Commons and House of Lords to vote for a trade deal agreed between the UK and any other country.

After Brexit, the UK will need to renegotiate trade deals, something that has been celebrated by Brexiteers and criticised by Remainers. For many, such trade deals with countries like the US will sacrifice certain standards that were followed while the UK was under European legislation. After leaving the European Union at the end of this year, Britain will need to be extremely cautious when striking new deals that will be beneficial to its people rather than meeting the demands of political agendas. The government’s reluctance to allow its lawmakers and the people’s representatives to have a say in the negotiations, goes against its own promise of taking back control from Europe and giving it back to the UK people. Additionally, it denies any scrutiny and seeks to pass deals without a dialogue, enforcing laws that could have repercussions on the social and political lives of its citizens for years to come.

Post-Brexit trade talks on a standstill

EU officers have complained that trade talks have been “going round in circles”, and Downing Street said that “significant differences remain on a number of important issues.” This is what is also expected to be reiterated on Thursday when Barnier appears at the press conference, as both sides are anticipating a stalemate.

Another round of talks will begin the week of August 17, but Germany said that it won’t begin to focus on the negotiations until September.

Boris Johnson does not want talks to “drag on into the autumn”, but he will need to make some concessions to see any movement forward. “We’re waiting for the UK to move,” an EU official has said according to the Financial Times. Johnson has talked of trading with the EU like Australia, but he would need to secure a trade deal that will eventually confirm his competency as a Prime Minister and avoid a disorderly Brexit that could lead to calls for Scottish Independence.

If you are a business sending large amounts of funds abroad and are worried about currency volatility, please get in touch with Universal Partners FX. UPFX’s dedicated foreign exchange specialists can help you access the most competitive exchange rates and make your currency transfers stress-free.

With more businesses opening slowly due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impending Brexit transition period ending on 31 December, an increasing number of Brits are looking to buy property in France. Many Brits want to secure a French property before Brexit, while others have chosen France for their holiday home, as they can drive there by car or reach it by ferry.

In The Connexion, an estate agent highlighted the rising demand for French homes by Brits, saying that “the phones have not stopped ringing’” as Britons are interested in buying a home in France before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Staycations

In an article in The Times, interest in staycations has now become the norm, especially after Covid-19 where travellers avoid airports. But, the meaning of a staycation need not be limited to spending vacations on British soil. Brits remain interested in buying a home abroad, but they are now choosing locations that they can reach by car. Director of French estate agency Leggett Immobilier, Joanna Leggett, notes that “We have seen a 42% rise since this time last year in enquiries from the British for properties that they can drive to.” “If you can get in your car, go through the Channel Tunnel and be in your house without having to see anyone except passport control, that’s actually a really good option for people now,” she said.

Brexit and buying a house in France

The number of British people moving to EU countries has remarkably grown since the 2016 Brexit referendum. With the UK expected to leave the single market after January 1, 2021, and any British arrival to France after that date to be regarded as outside the European Union, many Brits have begun looking for their holiday homes in France. This has helped increase property sales and may also result in France overtaking Spain as the number 1 destination for Brits moving abroad.

As Joanna Leggett said, this has had a positive effect on the property market: "Our sales to Brits at the beginning of the year were up 38% [year-on-year] until March, 85% of them were for main homes.  Our website hits are up 87% for the English-language version of our site and enquiries on properties are going completely mad.  We have so many Brits with reserved bookings coming from July, we expect the next three months to be our busiest ever." She also remarked: “I think the mad panic does seem to be that the British want to get here and they want to find their property and to be in it to qualify for the residency that we get at the moment.” She added that the period between July and September will be the busiest as restrictions might ease for travelling. “We have said that it does take three to four months for a sale to complete, so if people do want to be in their house they need to have made an offer by the end of September to be able to complete by December,” she said.

What happens after Brexit?

While the negotiations are still ongoing and there are many issues still to be resolved, one thing that is certain is that Brits will still be eligible to buy and rent out homes in France, as well as stay in France for 90 out of 180 days without the need of a visa.

If they move to France before the end of the transition period, it is expected that their rights will be the same as now, including their residency status, healthcare and uprating their UK state pensions.

According to estate agents Leggett Immobilier, Brits will “still be able to move here [after the transition period], there may be a little more paperwork than would previously have been required.”

Currency Exchange

If you are buying a holiday home in France, it is important to consult a specialist foreign exchange company such as Universal Partners FX right from the start. UPFX can help you manage currency fluctuations by fixing the rate, as the final price of your home could vary significantly from the time you made your offer.

When moving large amounts of cash, it is best to get in touch with UPFX’s currency specialists where they can offer you competitive exchange rates and the best value for your money. Find out what your money is worth by giving them a call or requesting a free quote.

The British Pound has fallen against its major peers as investors believe that the trade negotiations between the EU and UK will collapse and result in a no deal Brexit.

David Frost, the UK's chief negotiator, said to Parliament’s Brexit committee that the EU needed to change its position in order to reach an agreement that suits both sides. He told committee chairman Hilary Benn: “It’s their call.”

He also reminded MPs that the government did not intend to extend the transition period. As a result, the pound dropped, with the chances of a soft Brexit now looking increasingly slim. Frost said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be meeting in June with leaders in Brussels to try and push trade negotiations along.

Reiterating the rhetoric of hard Brexiters, Frost said that the EU was still grappling with the issue of Brexit: "The EU is still coming to terms with the fact that there's a large country in Europe that doesn't want to be part of the EU's structure in some way, or to work on EU norms, or to relate to the EU as the reference point of its activity.” However, as a Financial Times article put it, it is Brexiters who “still do not understand Europe,” arguing that the UK is “owed” privileged access and that Europeans are treating them “beastly.”

Pound to react to no-deal Brexit

Erik Norland, Executive Director and Senior Economist of CME Group, said that the pound fell against both the Euro and the US Dollar as the two sides reached an impasse regarding the “lack of progress on issues ranging from fishing rights to business-competition regulations." Norland highlighted the pound’s volatility in regards to Brexit:

"Since the referendum, GBP has tended to rally when it looked like a deal was close (+21% versus USD into early 2018 as then Prime Minister Theresa May held negotiations) and tended to sell off when Brexit appears to be headed towards the “no-deal” scenario (-16% when May’s deal was repeatedly defeated)."

He clarified that as we move into the next round of negotiations, GBP options markets are more tilted to the downside. He added: "Moreover, most of the recent spikes in both implied volatility and risk reversal have been motivated by concerns over the progress of Brexit negotiations. The one exception occurred during an incipient dollar-funding crisis in mid-March. After the U.S. Federal Reserve stepped in, that issued was resolved quickly.”

Brexit

As economists attest, the British currency’s volatility will continue and is expected to remain reactive to Brexit headlines, especially through June when the deadline for the UK and the EU to agree to extend the Brexit talks is due. The markets will react favourably to an extension, while the possibility of an impasse and no extension to the December transition deadline will lead to a drop in the pound.

The pound is also expected to react to next week’s final round of negotiations.

As we move closer to Brexit deadlines and Brexit-related news, the pound will continue to be sensitive. If you are worried about currency exchange and the value of the pound when transferring your hard-earned money overseas, get in touch with Universal Partners and their dedicated foreign exchange specialists. You can discuss your currency needs, get the best exchange rates and navigate the uncertainty that lies ahead. Do not let Brexit impact your currency transfers, maximise your currency potential with UPFX.