For the most part, the relative valuation of currencies isn’t something that affects day to day life for most people.
After all, outside holidays, how often do you directly buy something from overseas? Even with Internet sales sites as numerous as they are, in reality most people buy from their closest outlet for the simple reason that to do otherwise would add to the shipping costs. Even when that’s not so much the case it needs a major price disparity to make it worthwhile shipping internationally for most products.
However, that all changes when it’s a major transaction such as a house. Which is why we find ourselves wonder just what’s going to happen to the sterling/euro rate over the next six months or so.
Frankly, most ways of predicting the future direction of exchange rates are little more than gambling. However, looking at it historically the rate has been between 1.50€ to about 1.05€ over the last five years and around 1.10€ to 1.25€ over the last year. Perhaps more importantly though is that the Euro is clearly overvalued a lot. For example, the Big Mac Index puts the over-valuation at 30% (ie the 1.50€ from getting on for five year ago is the right one); the problem is that it can take a long time before a currency reaches its correct exchange rate, however one might define that.
So what’s a person to do?
In practice most people do nothing which leaves them wide-open to what can be massive exchange rate differences. For example, that 15% change over the last year might not sound like much but translate that into a house price of, say, 200,000€ and you could be looking at a change of around 30,000€ which isn’t small change obviously.
Second choice is to translate the prices into your own currency at the current rate and build that into the sale contract. A reasonable option for you, if you can convince the other party into running with it. Chances are that in reality this is going to be a non-runner.
Finally, there’s the option of using one of the currency exchange places and fixing the exchange rate in advance. There are a whole lot of options with this route but the principle differences are between committing yourself to buy/sell at the rate quoted and getting an option to buy/sell at that rate. It’s much, much better to run with the option as, of course, the exchange rate could move in your favour. With an option, you can change your mind and exchange at the better rate.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.