While it is unlikely London's population growth will go into reverse whatever the Brexit outcome, what could feasibly change is the composition of the population. RICS believes a Brexit could see a higher exodus of executives following their companies out of London towards a home base on the European continent, hitting the upper end of the housing market hardest. It is also widely believed that uncertainty triggered by a Brexit as the U.K. renegotiates its relationships with the EU and other countries, would cause the slowdown in house price transactions already in evidence to continue and price growth to be more subdued or turn more negative in some areas until the volatility settled.
A Brexit could also exacerbate the skills shortage often cited as a key factor hindering construction of new homes. Many contractors come from within the EU and a British withdrawal could see the entry process for them become more costly and cumbersome, hampering both Mayoral candidates' avowed intent to at least double the number of new houses built.
The skills shortage bridges concerns for housing and business - the latter another key policy focus for London's mayor. In April, 50 high profile business leaders called for urgent and drastic work to be done to improve the housing situation, saying they found it increasingly challenging to recruit the best talent due to the insurmountable costs of London housing.
The Mayor's responsibilities include promoting the economic wealth and development of London, much of which is dominated by its world-leading financial services' industry, colloquially known as "the City". A broader question is therefore how many more skilled workers would leave the capital in the case of Brexit? The fear being that the attraction of London as the preferred entry point to Europe would diminish as more global businesses elect - or are required - to have a base within an EU member state, precipitating companies to abandon the city.
However, two prominent credit ratings agencies have divided views on the matter. While S&P warns the negative effect of a Brexit would be 'significant', particularly for the City, Moody's strikes a more sanguine note, saying in its central scenario, it does not expect a Brexit to 'materially damage' the City's strong position. RICS cites London's attractions of language, a robust legal system, quality office space and educated workers as being reasons the feared business exodus may not materialize.