November 15, 2018 / 8:33 AM / a year ago

Property firms Bovis, Great Portland flag Brexit uncertainties

(Reuters) - Property firms Bovis Homes Group Plc (BVS.L) and Great Portland Estates (GPOR.L) flagged uncertainties from Britain’s exit from the European Union, but said they were prepared for the change.

A builder works at a Bovis homes housing development near Bolton, Britain, July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files

Homebuilder Bovis said on Thursday discretionary buyers were holding back on purchases as they wait to see how Brexit will affect the sector.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since 2016, particularly in London where higher purchase taxes and less foreign investor interest since the Brexit vote have had the most impact.

Bovis also said it had increased its use of part exchange deals, which allow buyers to trade in their homes as part payment for a new property, in the second half of the year.

The company said it continued to target a record year of profits for 2018, adding it was “fully sold” for this year.

The homebuilder also lauded Britain’s decision to extend to 2023 a flagship “Help to Buy” equity loan scheme, an initiative which has helped first-time buyers get onto the property ladder.

Central London property developer Great Portland Estates said it was planning for continued uncertainty in the markets due to the ongoing Brexit negotiations, but added it remains “exceptionally well positioned.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May won the backing of her senior ministers for a draft European Union divorce deal on Wednesday, freeing her to tackle the much more perilous struggle of getting parliament to approve the agreement.

A closely-watched industry survey showed on Tuesday that demand for new office space in London will continue even with the imminent exit of UK from the European Union,

Great Portland, whose portfolio is dominated by offices but also includes some retail and residential property, also said it plans to buy back up to 200 million pounds of shares.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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