Lockdown & Lettings: My advice to tenants looking to rent this summer
Through what has been a very challenging period for everyone, Douglas & Gordon have been working from home supporting our clients and customers. We took the bold stance not to furlough our Lettings, Tenancy and Property Management departments so that we could continue to deliver our usual levels of service during this time of uncertainty.
We have followed the government guidance and stayed at home. This has meant many challenges to our normal way of working which has forced us to innovate more than usual. Fortunately, we thought ahead and made the decision to video all our available properties before lockdown. For our new listings we have worked with tenants and landlords to produce a lockdown video tour of their property. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has helped us to create these tours and continue marketing and viewing the fantastic properties we have to let!
The Lettings Market
Our decision not to furlough our team has paid off and our hard-working, customer focused culture at D&G has shone through. As a result, we have welcomed many new tenants and clients during this period.
Even though London has been locked down we have been contacted by 2633 new tenants who have registered to secure a rental property during this time.
Initially, after the lockdown announcement, the numbers of applicants registering to rent were lower than normal - we saw 43% fewer enquiries compared to the same period last year. Interestingly, during that period we agreed 6% more lets compared to 2019.
However, in recent weeks the number of applicant registrations have increased dramatically and far surpass the historic demand. In my opinion, this is only going one way as we head into the summer market, which is always very competitive.
During the lockdown period we have received 621 offers and 220 offers have been agreed in Lettings. Just last week we received 119 offers and agreed a further 32 deals from tenants eager to secure a rental flat in the capital before the summer.
The new norm of securing a flat to rent from a video viewing has proven to be very popular. However, there is still a large proportion of tenants who have been waiting for lockdown restrictions to be eased so that they can view a property in person before they make a decision. This demand has been steadily growing by the day. Last week the government announced that property viewings, conducted in a sensible, socially distant manner, could be carried out. This has released a tidal wave of demand to view properties, meaning a very busy week for our Lettings teams!
My Advice to Tenants
- Speed is important, so set yourself up for success. Have your ID and references ready to go. In a competitive environment be prepared to complete references quickly and look to exchange your agreement in hours not days.
- The average tenancy length is now close to two years. The longer the tenancy length the more attractive your offer is to the landlord; this reduces the landlord’s upfront costs and adds weight to your offer.
- If you see something you can see yourself living in and it is the best you have seen, grab it with both hands and pay the asking price. Avoid the disappointment and hassle of having to look for another property by being strong with your offers. If you leave daylight between your offer and the asking price, another tenant will squeeze in.
We have seen many multiple bid situations over the last 8 weeks, and I expect this will be the norm over the upcoming months. The surge of applicants that is now registering will quickly deplete the stock levels.
“There is not an endless supply of property to let”
Over the past three years during the Brexit negotiations the amount of buy to let properties purchased has dropped dramatically, meaning that there is not an endless supply of rental property in the marketplace. To add to this, around 15% of landlords decided to sell during the Brexit period which reduced the levels of available properties even further.
My advice to tenants is that if you leave your search until August and September you will find yourself in a perfect storm situation - competing with the incoming tide of students, graduates, young professionals and families all searching for the same type of property. In my opinion rental prices will rise with the imbalance of supply and demand.
I understand that moving home, even in normal market conditions, can be stressful and challenging. In today’s climate the challenges are even greater. At Douglas & Gordon we pride ourselves on our excellent customer service and hard-working attitude. We would love to welcome more clients and customers to the D&G family and help you to find your next home.