What is Happening with the West Oxfordshire Rental Market?
Interestingly, we’ve seen a surge in the availability of rental properties being offered in the local market. This is particularly acute in relation to 2-bedroom properties in Witney, there are now 48 listed TO LET of which 31 are flats. Once we ‘zoom out’ slightly, the picture is less worrying, with only nine 2-bed properties listed in Carterton, this is below the usual norm. Interestingly, supply currently exceeds demand for 3-bedroom houses too, but this should rebalance as families aim to move during the school holidays. Here’s the latest availability for properties in Witney to rent:
What Does This Mean?
Whilst this remains a popular and busy time of year for new tenancies, it is likely that, in the short term, properties may take longer to let. Interestingly, we are almost exactly a year down the line from the introduction of the 3% Stamp Duty levy and my analysis is that this is, in part, down to 12 month tenancies coming to an end after the spike in property sales last March. I suspect that this is a temporary blip – let’s hope I’m not proven wrong.
What Should Landlords Do About This?
Be realistic! Consider the impact of lowering rents slightly versus having a longer void period. Consider promotions (such as half price rent for the first month for an early move-in) or ensuring your property stacks up well against the competition in terms of décor, fixtures and fittings.
Pets – there are plenty of applicants out there with pets who are desperate for a new home. If you accept pets then you may even get more rent. We can take steps to ensure your property remains well looked after; these include larger deposits or special conditions regarding professional cleaning at the end of a tenancy. It is estimated that around 45% of households own a pet and owners can often prove to be responsible tenants and generally stay longer owing to difficulties in finding suitable alternatives. This can improve yields and reduce void periods (and, dare I say it, reduce costly agent fees)!
Pick your agent wisely – is your agent advertising to the widest possible market? Do they advise you about the relevant rent, provide feedback and inform you about local market conditions? Are they using Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation? Do they use social media to market their properties? Here’s a list of the top 100 agents in the UK for social media engagement so you can check: http://www.zoopla.co.uk/property-power-100/
What is Our Advice?
Buy-to-let still makes sense as an asset class, but it’s vital to choose your property wisely to avoid potentially costly mistakes. By speaking with the experts, you can limit your risk and improve your returns. Despite the current spike in availability, the smart money is going into 2-bed houses (freehold), ideally with a garage or allocated parking. Carterton commands a discount and has a higher proportion of the population living in private rented accommodation than the rest of West Oxfordshire.