With Grexit moving from outside possibility to likely outcome, what are the probable implications for property investment? Despite the threat of dramatic short term dislocation, my view is that real estate will hold up well.
Here are my 5 predictions should Greece’s exit from the Euro become reality:
1. Contagion no longer a risk, despite short-term uncertainty
Economic spillover has been a key concern throughout the Greek debt crisis. In 2012, Grexit threatened the stability of the whole Eurozone, but this contagion risk has since dramatically reduced. As a result, while the Greek economy faces deep recession and major hardship, its neighbouring economies are far more resilient.Grexit remains uncharted territory and will be at least six months before the fog clears. It is inevitable that there will be increased volatility and uncertainty, and a flight to safer havens.But the ECB is well aware of the potential disruption and is planning further measures to smooth the transition. If Grexit threatens the global recovery, non-Eurozone Central Banks are likely to delay interest rates rises (including the US and the UK) – a further shot in the arm for investors
2. Property maintains a strong premium over bonds
These policy effects will be felt in the bond markets where bund rates (German bonds) are expected to stall at their current lows for some time. The euro is also likely to weaken further. Both will be positive for both the broader economy and real estate.
After the initial disruption, investors will refocus on returns. With property pricing still attractive, funds will continue to flow to real estate, initially favouring core European markets such as Germany, France and the UK. Property here will offer both stability and healthy yields relative to other assets.
3. UK as a safe haven
Britain currently has its own differences with its European neighbours over the impending EU referendum. But as the UK isn’t part of the euro, it will also be less vulnerable to any post-Grexit turbulence. The UK is traditionally seen as a safe haven for property investors and this status will be reinforced in the immediate aftermath.
4. Growth opportunities further out in southern Europe
By contrast, the Eurozone fringe economies are seen as more fragile. But, unlike Greece, these economies are much further along with their restructuring and have already seen growth resume along with renewed investor interest.
There may be some slight cooling of these markets in the initial Grexit upheaval. But as they are resilient and remain committed to the euro, the medium term outlook looks robust and this is likely to drive strong rental demand.
5. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
European markets are likely to be tough enough to weather Greece’s exit longer term. Yes, it will be a disruptive and uncertain for a few months afterwards. Yet ultimately it may be better for property investors that the Eurozone core refocuses without Greek distractions.
Greece has been off-limits as an investment destination since 2010. Life will be extremely hard after Grexit, but the economy will eventually rebound, freed from the shackles of the euro and austerity. It is an outside possibility, but in two years’ time, investors may be looking at Athens again as a potential opportunity.