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In uncertain times, becoming indispensable to landlords is key to lettings success

8th April 2019

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Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the ARLA Propertymark conference. Among the fascinating and insightful talks was a presentation by Daniel Barea, Customer Insights Manager at Rightmove.

He started by praising the resilience and resourcefulness of agents in adapting to the changing climate. He then presented some key statistics from the English Private Landlords Survey, and discussed how letting agents can incorporate these findings into their strategy for the coming year.

Background – supply and demand in the lettings market

Demand for rental properties is increasing and housing stock is dropping. Across England, there was a 9% drop in housing stock over the past year, while in London the drop was more dramatic, at 19%.

The squeeze on stock, and the imminent introduction of the tenant fees ban, is likely to increase rents. In London, it is predicted that the increase will be in the region of 3%-4%.

Since 2011, the lettings sector has grown by 25%, with 1 in 5 households now renting.

Key findings from the survey

One key finding from the survey is that there has been no apparent uplift in the number of landlords planning to sell all of their properties and quit the sector. When the last survey was carried out in 2010, 13% of landlords, representing 7% of tenancies, planned to quit being a landlord. In 2018, this had reduced to just 5% of landlords (representing 5% of tenancies).

What has increased dramatically, however, is landlord uncertainty. Barea pointed out that 20% of landlords have made no plans regarding their portfolio over the next two years.

How agents can become indispensable in uncertain times

This level of uncertainty suggests Landlords may be struggling to navigate through this turbulent period for the sector. This, Barea suggests, provides agents with a real opportunity to make a difference.

For example, one third of landlords don’t know about the tenant fees ban. Many may also be unclear on where changes to the taxation system leave them, while legal and compliance frameworks are also a source of confusion. Agents who can help their landlords understand the complexities of the lettings landscape are likely to find themselves indispensable to their clients.

This may mean a change in strategy when it comes to client relations. Firstly, agents need to equip themselves with the knowledge to provide adequate support and advice for landlords. Secondly, agents may need to couple this with a tactical approach to customer care, focusing on larger clients. The Private Landlords Survey revealed that 17% of landlords own 48% of all tenancies. The effort expended on providing customer care to this small but powerful segment is amplified exponentially when viewed in terms of tenant headcount and per-capita income.

Where to find support

Barea issued a timely reminder to agents that the Rightmove Hub provides a range of resources for agents in the form of training and information. Making the most of the tools and resources available will help agents further their expertise, enabling them to provide additional expert support to key clients.

Tili is a digital home move assistant that helps tenants set up their essential home services in a few taps. Agents who partner with Tili can earn revenue when their tenants use the service. Tili is part of Spark, the leading home services partner to the lettings industry. Spark has recently launched the Corgi HomeHeat service, which provides discounts for landlords on new boilers, as well as further revenue-generating opportunities for agents. Get in touch today to find out more about becoming a partner.

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