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Dominant Brexit is hiding commercial property issues, says agent

Continuing Brexit uncertainty is affecting commercial property decision making and hiding pressing industry issues according to a Liverpool agent.

John Barker, partner at Hitchcock Wright & Partners, suggests business rates, taxation, rising pension costs, local authority funding and infrastructure works are all being overshadowed by Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU).

He claims that whilst business rates are not the sole challenge for retailers they’re “undoubtedly impacting on high street activity,” adding: “The system is long overdue for overhaul and perhaps a fairer approach may be a local sales tax/turnover.

“Regular re-valuation does help but phase reductions takes too long to work through.”

The commercial property expert also explains that “with greater emphasis placed on the tax payer, there are increases in costs through greater administration” when it comes to taxation and making tax digital.

In addition, Barker believes restricted local authority funding, especially in planning departments, is “reducing their effectiveness and slowing the development process whether it be through change of use, regeneration or new build”.

Meanwhile required infrastructure works which “appear to take an inordinate length of time” impact on the “economic activity of those affected and general delays in transport”.

Barker tells Move Commercial: “Property investment and transaction activity continues but there’s hesitation in some quarters as uncertainty over Brexit may be affecting the market.

“By all accounts there’s a weight of capital waiting in the wings for an opportune moment to invest, with some parties seeing Brexit uncertainty as an opportunity as there may be less competition in the market with others waiting because they don’t know what the pricing is going to be post-Brexit.

“There’s a view that any reductions in price now or post-Brexit will only be short lived due to the weight of capital available for investment. That said, those who spot the best buying opportunities or have the skill or luck to spot the highs and lows of the market will succeed. Sellers may also hesitate of disposing for the same reasons and therefore the market begins to slow down.”