These are strange times.
Edinburgh is a city where, for as long as we can remember, demand for properties has outstripped supply by a country mile and rents have constantly climbed. Suddenly, dramatically (but believe us, temporarily) things have changed.
This is what we’ve noticed so far:
- There has been a sudden drop in prospective tenant enquiries (we expect this is a short-term reaction to the change of pace in response to the virus this week, and that these will pick up slowly but surely over the coming weeks.)
- A large number of student tenants have given up their accomodation early and headed home/back overseas
- A much smaller number of professional tenants are, or will soon be, struggling financially and are choosing to give up their tenancies
- There has been a flood of cancellations of bookings for holiday lets and short-term let landlords are looking to long-term tenancies as a more secure option in the meantime
Over the coming weeks and months we expect to see more big changes in the market. The time it takes to let a property will increase – our average time to let a property was 14 days; we expect it to be well over double now. Rents will drop – the market conditions dictate the rents and we will be ready to respond to the changes as and when the market calls for it, but with an oversupplied market we can be sure the rent levels we’ve become used to will be unsustainable. A higher proportion of agreed tenancies will fall through even before they start due to rapidly changing circumstances.
For now, and the foreseeable future, our priority is to keep tenancies going and to keep roofs over people’s heads. This will stem the flow of properties on the market and will keep tenants safe. Our Relationship Managers are working to become experts in the financial support available for landlords and tenants, and will be doing all they can to help sustain tenancies where possible. For available properties, we need to work creatively to ensure we provide homes for those who need them while providing income to landlords during these financially uncertain times.
Here’s what we’re doing to help keep the market moving:
- We have already created video tours for our available properties and our team are currently working on our soon-to-be available properties so we can continue to show these responsibly to the widest audience we can
- We have created a new team who will be working closely with landlords when their tenants are vacating – they will keep a close eye on changes in the market so they can offer expert advice & make sure we are setting the properties up for success when they hit the market
- Every tenant enquiry we receive will be allocated to one of our Letting Negotiators so we can do everything in our power to find them a Umega property and create as many new tenancies as possible
- We’re continuing to on board our tenants remotely – Our credit checks, referencing, ID checks, lease signing and inventory checks are all carried out online so that tenants can do so from the safety of their current homes
We will get through this temporary change.
Rents will bounce back, and a healthier rhythm will return to the lettings sector.
In the meantime we will do everything we can to sustain existing tenancies and adapt to the new market landscape we find ourselves the best way we know how – by looking after the people first.
By Danielle Kerr – Director