We are pleased that the quarter proved far from being all doom and gloom.
With much uncertainty and a sense of weary anticipation paving the way into Q1 of 2021, we are pleased that the quarter proved far from being all doom and gloom. While themes surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic continued to shape the market, an unanticipated but much-desired extension of the stamp-duty holiday and shortage in supply provided reason for mild optimism.
According to data from Rightmove rental demand has been swinging away from major cities, towards suburbs and more rural locations. Since the start of the year, only 1 in 5 properties which have come to market in city centres such as London, have been marked as Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC). In contrast, data that includes non-city centre locations shows almost two-thirds of properties as SSTC. Available stock is noted as being down by 26% on last year. Although this relates to the sales market, we have seen a similar trend in Guildford’s rental sector.
Specifically, we have seen a notable demand increase in the number of people who are looking to leave city locations, in particular London. They are placing a higher value on outdoor space, fresh air and good walking locations, which fortunately Guildford is blessed with. Uncertainty for professionals surrounding their return to an office, as well as an increase in the number of people working from home, as further impacted individuals’ priorities in terms of space. A much larger percentage of people are now looking for properties that offer the possibility of a ‘home office’.
Locally, the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and home rental markets (professionals and families) have continued to drift in rent price appreciation correlation. Whereas in prior years we saw good year-on-year growth in HMO rental prices, it is now family homes that demonstrate better stability and growth, backed by strong demand. While we observed a general downward price pressure on HMO properties, this has not been reflected in the successes we have seen our premium quality listings achieve. Properties located in desirable areas, with modern fixtures and fittings continue to be extremely popular. This underlines what we have been conveying to our landlords throughout Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021, that student tenants are more exacting in what they are looking for and are taking more time in their search to find the right property. This is also reflected by the increased average number of viewings per tenant group.
With regards to family homes, according to data compiled by Savills rental values of prime property through the commuter zone have continued to rise, increasing by 2.5% on average, bringing the annual rental growth to 5.4%. In fact, the market for village properties closest to London has risen by 7.0% over the last year, further evidence for an increased desire for more space both inside and outside.
Looking to the future and more specifically to the next quarter, we anticipate a gradual recovery of stock levels that had been impacted by a loss of confidence in the market, caused by the pandemic and subsequent legislative changes. Demand for good quality family homes is likely to stay strong, while student properties (HMOs) that have not been successfully let by June will perhaps need to look to a different market or consider flexibility on what they offer. Although we are cautiously optimistic, we imagine the hangover from the pandemic will continue. As vaccines continue to be rolled out, we very much hope the rental market will ride the wave of positivity we are all feeling with the recent easing of restrictions.
Marketing at The Home Club
In recent years video has become a fantastic resource for premium properties to showcase their features and charm to homebuyers and tenants all over the world. The upheaval of the past year has brought this technology to the wider market and incredibly, we’ve done over 600 virtual viewings since the first Lockdown.
Showing the tenants the video over Zoom gives us the option of explaining smaller details that wouldn’t otherwise be picked up by video. The videos, supported by our floorplans and professional photography, help everyone understand what to expect before moving in. What’s more, having a member of the team who is local to Guildford explain the area and highlight important details for tenants makes these videos work especially hard.
By working with the tenants in-situ at the point of planning, we avoid any unpleasantries and ensure the footage shows the house in the best possible light. This of course benefits existing tenants as there will be fewer physical viewings if the viewers can understand the house from the virtual viewing.
Virtual viewings have become the norm with Rightmove and other online portals showcasing the option for ONLINE VIEWING at the start of the adverts. Rightmove, being the main example, uses a yellow “sticker” on all relevant adverts.
Physical viewings are of course still expected. About 50% of our viewings are in-person, something we can now safely accommodate as restrictions ease. The key remains offering both options for tenants and to allow this trend to successfully be appreciated by all parties.
This gives tenants a clear sign that the property can be viewed safely from the safety of their own home.
In other News…
Time really does fly!
We’ve been here in Guildford for a full year now. We’ve welcomed three new team members and are preparing for our move moving into our new home! Don’t worry though, we won’t be going far. We look forward to welcoming you to our new home at 11 Quarry Street as soon as we can. It’s a relaxing, informal area where we know you and your tenants will feel comfortable. Follow us on social media and you’ll see the odd sneak peek coming soon.
As well as growing our team to further support you, we are also excited to introduce SPOTLIGHT, a new online magazine by The Home Club. SPOTLIGHT is here to celebrate Guildford’s community atmosphere with enjoyable articles that inform as well as entertain. From interviews with owners of regional hot-spots, to expert know-how from interior designers and property gurus, SPOTLIGHT is here for both you and your tenants.
And finally, a small boast which acts as a ‘well-done’ to our team and a reassurance for you. According to Rightmove, we let more properties than any other agent in Guildford in the first quarter of the year. As of YTD May, only one (very established) agent has let more properties than us. But with their stock at more than 120% of ours, we’re content to take second place on this occasion…
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