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As the great British winter begins to take hold and we all start to bemoan the cold, I’m sure many of us can’t help but spare a thought for the Australian communities devastated by the bushfires. Australia is suffering one of the most catastrophic ‘fire seasons’ on record due to the searing heat of the Australian summer turning the Antipodean landscape into nothing short of a giant tinderbox. Over 2500 homes have been destroyed, thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, at least 29 people have lost their lives, and an estimated 1 billion animals have been killed with some endangered species possibly being driven to extinction. At the time of writing, long awaited rainfall has begun to dampen the fires and hopefully will create a turning point to take back control of the fires and speed up their extinguishment.

This loss of homes and habitats got me to thinking about what we would do if a similar event happened here in the UK, and just how do you approach replacing housing stock to start to begin the journey of rebuilding homes, lives, and security. Although we are fortunate that we have not lost a huge amount of housing stock in one catastrophic event- there is a shortage of housing stock in the UK. The new Conservative government led by Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver at least a million new homes within the next 5 years, and figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government found that over 240,000 new homes were added to the country’s housing stock in 2018 to 2019; these figures are the highest since the data began being recorded back in 1991, and is also the highest amount added since the financial crash of 2007 to 2008.

With Brexit looming, it is hard to predict how that will impact the construction industry. Currently, the UK construction industry is heavily supported by an EU migrant workforce; the right to free movement and any loss of the automatic right to work within the UK may lead to a skills shortage within the industry. Any long-term skills shortage would impact the current UK housing crisis as builders will be unable to fulfil the government housing targets which would effectively increase overall project costs and house prices ; if non-UK investors also decided to halt their investment in UK property and construction projects, building work could be further impacted.

Presently up to 63% of construction materials enter the UK directly from, or via, the EU. The amount of red tape and tariffs that will affect the import of construction materials post Brexit could lead to a materials shortage and a sharp increase in costs.

How well the construction industry and the property market will be able to weather the storms of a possible post Brexit downturn will depend greatly on the integrity of any trade deals we secure with the EU and the rest of the world.

Here at Hunters we are working tirelessly to ensure that we minimise potential Brexit disruption to our clients, customers, and branches, to ensure we consistently offer the best service and financial outcomes for all. Just this week, figures released by an independent piece of research showed that Hunters ranked third nationally for the number of residential properties sold subject to contract throughout 2019- the data was generated from Rightmove Intel Data that examined the sales from the 7000 brands and 14,200 branches represented on the property sales portal- that really does demonstrate just how successful the Hunters® brand is for our franchisees and our customers. These figures combined with our 96% customer satisfaction status really does put us on the front foot as we move into a period of housing uncertainty.

So, all that is left to say is that although here in the UK we have our own housing crisis issues to manoeuvre, my heartfelt best wishes go out to all those in the southern hemisphere that are facing rebuilding their lives and communities.

Andy