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What Brexit Means for NYC: Fewer Tourists and Higher Real Estate Prices

By Nicole Levy | June 24, 2016 2:31pm
 Britain has voted to leave the European Union, an outcome these Britons supported.
Britain has voted to leave the European Union, an outcome these Britons supported.
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Getty/Jack Taylor

In a referendum held Thursday, Britain voted to leave the European Union, a momentous decision that will have huge ramifications for not only Europe, but the entire globe.

Britain will become the first country to exit the 28-member bloc that first took shape after World War II to foster economic cooperation among European nations. The process of withdrawal will take no more than two years.

Proponents of Brexit stood strongly against the EU's immigration and monetary policies, which permit free movement and labor throughout the bloc, and which they say compromised the United Kingdom's national sovereignty, identity and resources.

How will Brexit affect New Yorkers? We break it down:

On the bright side ...

Brexit will likely make your mortgage more affordable.

Over the past few weeks, mortgage rates have plunged to their lowest levels in three years as the Federal Reserve balked over the prospect of Britain leaving the EU.  That's because mortgage rates tend to reflect yields on 10-year U.S. government bonds and the Fed's interest rate. With the threat of volatility in global markets after Brexit, the Reserve has put rate hikes on hiatus and investors have been inclined to buy safe assets like U.S. bonds, dropping their yields.

You could take a very reasonably priced vacation in the U.K. this summer.

Your dollar will be worth a lot more than it has been in recent years, with the exchange rate improving for Americans. As of Friday morning after the vote, the British pound sank to its lowest level in the past 30 years, bottoming out at a value of 1.33 dollars.

And you may not have shove your way past as many tourists in Rockefeller Center this Christmas.

New York's tourism industry could suffer with the weakening of British and European currencies, but that means fewer crowds to contend with. The United Kingdom sends more tourists to New York City than any other foreign country, according to NYC & Company, the city's official tourism bureau. They sent 1.2 million tourists here in 2015.

"We would maybe notice it by Christmas," economist Barbara Byrne Denham told Crain's New York. 

On the dark side ...

New York real estate might get even more expensive, with foreign investors pricing you out of the market.

Facing the threat of a global recession, wealthy investors from countries like Canada and China are seeking safe havens for their assets, such as New York residential and commercial real estate. If they continue to shift their investment from the London to New York real estate market, as they have in the past year, they'll drive up prices for local buyers.

Your favorite local business will take a hit as the British demand for American exports declines.

Companies like Brooklyn Brewery, which books 8 percent of its sales in Britain, may not be able to count on selling their products in the U.K. going forward. The depreciation of the pound will make a pint of Brooklyn lager, already priced two pounds more than British or European alternative, even more expensive.

“The informed consumer is willing to pay more for the brands they value, but there’s a limit to everything," Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway told the International Business Times.

According to U.S. Census data, the U.K. was New York state's fourth largest export market in 2015.

You should probably not freak out about your investments, including your retirement plan, right now.

U.S. stocks plummeted Friday morning after the U.K.'s surprising vote and Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement of his resignation. In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down about 500 points, with the S&P 500 down 2.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite down 3.4 percent. Even if you've never deliberately bought shares of a public company, you probably have a company retirement plan invested in the stock market.  

"In the short term, markets will trade on emotion, so make sure you don’t end up becoming your portfolio’s worst enemy,” warned Bob Stovall, a U.S. equity strategist speaking to USA Today. He advised investors to “stay calm and carry on" with their long-term plans.