Britain’s vote to leave the EU has sent shockwaves through our political and economic systems – that fact is inescapable. In advance of and since the vote we have witnessed clear signs of this market uncertainty and what comes next is uncertain.

Commercial Property, a sector which contributes almost £6 billion to Scotland’s economic output, is by no means immune to such shocks and investors in UK infrastructure are currently making decisions which will have long term implications for future jobs, homes and businesses – both north and south of the border.

During turbulent times confidence is king and we are looking for reassurance from the UK and Scottish governments for investors and the markets. The real estate industry supports economic growth, creates and supports jobs (directly and indirectly nearly 134,000 in Scotland). However as a capital intensive industry the sector is heavily reliant on investment.

The Scottish Property Federation and other industry organisations have long underlined the huge importance of foreign capital to our economy. In our report commissioned from Heriot-Watt University published last June we noted how overseas lenders and investors were clearly playing a growing role in the sector with nearly half of the most active lenders and seven of the top ten Scottish commercial real estate deals by value reported on coming from overseas sources.

We’ve seen several major funds have temporarily suspended trading in their UK commercial property funds and we have also seen warnings from the Governor of the Bank of England about commercial real estate being a key risk for the economy currently.

The sector cannot hide from the challenges ahead but the fundamentals of our economy are still strong and investors should not panic. Real estate remains attractive because of its enduring attractiveness as a stable asset class. Yet with all investments there are periods of good and poor performance with any long term asset and we need to ride out this challenging period.

To do so we need to focus on the opportunities which present themselves and realise the importance of continuing to invest in the future. And we’ve seen the evidence opportunities still exist. For example, it was recently reported Glasgow has this year seen its best second quarter of office space take-up for nearly a decade. Nearly 150,000 sq. ft. of office space was let in the city between April and June. That included AXA taking up 50,000 sq. ft. at the Cuprum building at Atlantic Quay and Regus will lease 30,000 sq. ft. at Tay House, near Charing Cross.

A similar story is to be heard in Edinburgh and although Aberdeen is re-calibrating its economy, opportunities exist to diversify its economy and real estate can play a leading role in this transformation.

In addition to demand for central belt office space, we still have a housing shortage and demand for new homes of all tenures. The focus on these opportunities must remain as we chart our immediate new course within the context of Brexit.

The Scottish Property Federation will continue to champion the industry but we need a level of certainty and confidence to emanate from both the UK and Scottish Governments respectively. At this stage we still do not have any firm idea of what our future relationship with the EU will be and the timescale and process for our discussions on exit and future relationship with the EU. We note the new Prime Minister’s intention to build a consensus with the devolved governments in the process of negotiations with Brussels which is welcome although given the differing views from the respective voters of England and Wales on the one hand, and Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other the challenge of consensus is clearly not to be underestimated.

Confidence and certainty in our real estate markets is not restricted to Brexit with proposed changes to Scotland’s planning and business rates systems now under consultation. In these areas the focus must remain on growing the Scottish economy in order to expand its tax base and to provide jobs, build infrastructure and create great places to work, line and enjoy. The Scottish real estate sector has the appetite and the skills to deliver all of these but it needs a working environment in which to secure capital investment – this is where governments can and must help.

David Melhuish is director of the Scottish Property Federation.