Over recent years, particularly since 2010, there have been quite a lot of significant changes in the letting market. Some of those changes are even more noticeable with particular types of rental properties eg. "out of town" flats.
The sort of comments landlords have made to us are :-
- It's becoming more difficult to find and keep good tenants
- Properties are experiencing a higher level of tenant "turn-over"
- Properties are experiencing longer vacancy (void) periods
- "Traditional" local advertising is much less effective eg. newspapers and window boards
- Some larger portfolios are experiencing multiple vacancies
- Landlords are having to invest more money on "maintenance" to attract (and keep) good tenants
It's very noticeable that these changes are especially challenging for portfolio landlords who have managed their properties themselves. Some business models and practices that worked previously simply do not achieve the same "return on investment" today. Some of the reasons for this are fairly obvious – some are much less obvious.
So what's changed ?
In one word – internet.
Of course there are other factors (more below) but the internet has changed the face of the letting market – and the impact extends well beyond just "advertising".
As little as 10 years ago, a prospective tenant would have to make a conscious effort to find a rental property to their liking – possibly walking around various property agents offices, looking in windows for local ads., checking newspapers, or good old "word of mouth".
Of course these more "traditional" advertising methods can, sometimes, still work - but from the tenant's point of view they generally require a lot more time and effort. Having identified a property at the right price, and in the right area, previously they would generally have had to visit in person to get any sense of what the property was actually like.
It's a fact that over 90% of property searches now start on-line.
The efficiency and "productivity" of this method should be obvious. If it isn't – ask us and we'll show you why.
Our experience is that tenants particularly appreciate representative photos as this can save them a lot of "leg-work".
Some Landlords have told us that certain properties that previously experienced very good occupancy rates now struggle to achieve the same level – and they are noticing that tenants, across the board, are becoming much more "choosy" and "demanding".
Additionally, once a property is a bit "lived in" many tenants who may previously not have bothered making the effort to find an alternative can now do so very easily – literally during the evening TV ad break! Just pick up their mobile and presto – don't even have to leave the couch.
The good news is that, a little attention to a few important details can help prevent this "attrition". The changes needed may be small but they are disproportionately important. We are very focused on what is cost effective.
Click here for more information.
A word to the wise – tenants who find it difficult to pass "referencing" (for whatever reason!) will often deliberately use "traditional" adverts (eg. newspapers, window ads. or "direct" websites such as Gumtree). These methods can still work, but be sure to take extra time with referencing. "Problem tenants" know well that these routes often lead to less stringent checks.
Our experience is that web-sites such as Zoopla, Lettingweb etc. are not only productive, but also generally lead to good quality applicants. Problem tenants seem to have learned from experience not to bother as they'll be more carefully scrutinised.
Click here for more information.