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Overseas investors remain wary of EU Referendum-induced exchange rate volatility

Posted on 18 May 2016

British overseas investors and foreign investors in the UK are watching closely as we enter the final month before the EU Referendum, keen to pick up signs of which way the vote will go and how Sterling will react against currencies.

Since December 2015, Sterling has taken a bumpy downward path from £1/€1.41 to a low point of £1/€1.23 in April. However, as polls increasingly indicate growing support for remaining in the EU, Sterling is retracing lost ground, fluctuating by the day and is currently hovering around £1/€1.275. Its performance against the dollar has been less dramatic since the start of the year, falling from £1/$1.477 to £1/$1.38 but recovering, albeit on a bumpy path, to its current £1/$1.44 rate.

Overseas property buyers have been one group of people most exposed to the volatility in exchange rates. For example, someone who exchanged £200,000 for euros on 19th February would have found himself with €258,906 to spend on his dream home overseas. However, had he made the exchange on 21st February, he would have had just €256,213, a difference of €2,693 in just two days.

Many buyers will be holding off committing to a purchase until after the Referendum. That said, some buyers will have judged the likely outcome for themselves well in advance and act accordingly, while others will wait until the weeks before, when a clearer indication of the outcome can be predicted. Currently the What UK Thinks: EU Poll of Polls is showing 52 per cent for the ‘remain’ camp and 48 per cent for the ‘leave.’

The figures have moved no more than three percentage points further apart for the past six months. In all likelihood, the anticipation of an exit vote would be likely to weaken the pound, while a predicted vote to remain in the EU would be expected to seriously strengthen sterling’s position across the board. In the meantime, all eyes will remain on the exchange rate as the referendum date approaches.

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