2007 was an eventful year for the lettings market, characterised by exceptionally strong demand from tenants; new legislation to protect tenants’ deposits; a series of interest rate rises; and ongoing debate over the future of the market.
Says Paul Weller, managing director of Leaders – one of the UK’s largest independently owned letting specialists: “With interest rate rises, the credit-crunch crisis and a slowing sales market, there has been a lot of doom mongering about buy to let in recent months. However having 32 branches across the South East gives us an excellent picture of the industry and we see a buoyant market with good long-term prospects.
“Both rents and property values in our areas have risen over the past 12 months and there is no sign of the strong tenant demand abating. In the current market, good quality properties are letting very quickly, and people are staying in rented accommodation longer, with the average tenancy lasting almost 2 years, regardless of the length of their initial agreement which is commonly for six months.
”We believe tenant demand will remain high, not only from those who cannot afford to buy their own homes, but also from people who prefer to rent for convenience and flexibility; from those waiting to see what happens in the sales market; and from the many immigrants coming to live and work in the UK.”
Leaders reports that many of its 32 branches exceeded their lettings forecasts in November, a time that is traditionally quieter for letting. With property prices now showing signs of easing in some areas, the company believes there are excellent opportunities for astute investors to acquire properties at attractive prices.
Says Paul: “Like us, those landlords who take a long-term view of the market are confident about the future and many are considering adding to their property portfolios. Of course it is vital that this is done with care, and only after consulting a letting specialist who knows the local market inside out.
Specialist advice is crucial when you consider that one of the most common reasons given by landlords selling up is that they weren’t able to achieve the rent they had expected. A reputable letting specialist will take all market factors into account to give an accurate rental valuation and guidance on exactly where and what to buy to ensure the best chance of a successful investment.”
With tenant demand remaining strong for all types of properties – from studio flats to large family homes – and at a 5 year high according to ARLA’s latest quarterly survey published in November, Leaders is looking forward to another busy year.