With the current pandemic changing where people want to live, we set out on a journey to see just how much consumer preferences have changed and what this means for the industry. With more and more people looking for space find themselves looking for properties further and further from Central London.
Across the UK, rental searches were up by 34% in August compared to the same time last year. This increase is likely a reflection of the lack of movement during lockdown and an increase of activity from tenants as they reconsider what it is they are looking for from a home.
Previous hotspots are now seeing people moving out as renters preference has changed. Now opting for homes that are bigger and have more outdoor space, more and more people are looking for homes in the outer areas of London. Especially in West London.
Rightmove’s Miles Shipside said: “No one knows what the future holds, but at the moment, it’s clear to see that places with a slower pace of life are top of renters’ home-hunting wishlists.”
More tenants who were moving were going to bigger properties than before the pandemic, it found, with 34% of tenants going somewhere with at least one extra bedroom.
Almost two-thirds of Londoners who moved to somewhere bigger left the capital, typically moving somewhere cheaper and leaving unlet homes in the city. Younger renters are also opting for studios or 1 beds rather than having to share an apartment.
We spoke to Louise Reilly the Letting Manager at Century21 – Kew.
Shafaq: “Have you noticed a shift in where people are moving?”
Louise: “For us, we have seen a constant and steady demand for properties in West London. We have properties in North and South West, as well, all areas which are as in demand as they were before the pandemic. There are many people who love the West and we find that people are moving out of the small apartments to places that have a bit more space and have a bit of greenery. Generally people are moving towards outer London. They don’t want to stay in prime central london apartments because they are smaller or they are just too expensive.
Shafaq: “Have you noticed a shift in what renters are looking for or why they’re moving?”
Louise: “People’s reasons for moving it’s normally because either the family is growing generally people just want more space to grow. We’ve seen a decrease in 2 person occupation. A lot less sharers, which is a strange one. And is unfortunate for my landlords as many have multiple occupancy homes.
Outside space is also a massive reason, people are moving away from little flats and are looking for places where they can get some fresh air, even if it is a shared outside space.”
Shafaq: “How has this demand boom affected Century21-Kew?”
Louise: “For us, the boom hasn’t changed how we handle our clients, but rather it’s been about us revamping how we work and how we use our team. Our days look a lot different now and we have a lot more dual roles especially since we’ve seen a massive increase in enquiries for sales properties. Properties that have been on the market for a year moved within weeks of the stamp duty announcement.
To meet this demand we’ve actually had to hire more people because there are just so many buyers.
However, the impact of this on rentals has been quite different. Affordability and rental value has definitely decreased. We thrive in the mid-range properties (properties priced between £1700-£1900) and the demand for these properties is practically gone. With landlords in the area reducing their rent themselves this has pushed the rental value down by upto 20% in some areas and this has had a domino effect. People want larger properties, more outdoor space, but their budget hasn’t really increased as much.”
Shafaq: “What is your outlook on the market for the next couple of months?”
Louise: “Sales market will continue to be quick and fast for the next couple of months, and till the Stamp Duty incentive lasts. There’s enough buyers in the market and keen sellers. Once the sales boom subsides a little the increase in the new BTL landlords will help create a boom in the rental market which the hope is will help increase the value of rental properties. To fully “recover” and get back to a level of some normalcy will take at least a year. The rental market has historically always been stable so this decline has been a shock, but I am confident that this will return to normal in a year”.
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