As Umega finds its footing in the COVID-era, we are continuing to take the pulse of the lettings market. As we showed in last week’s blog, the market has kept moving throughout the summer and this week we will look at the monthly volume of move-ins this year compared to 2019.
After a drop during lockdown, move-ins have bounced back
In 2019, we experienced a high volume of move-ins during the start of the summer and a spike in early September at the beginning of the University academic year (student tenancies create significant seasonality in Edinburgh that has a knock-on effect on the professional-let market). This year, unsurprisingly we experienced a significant drop in move-ins at the beginning of April as the pandemic hit but this was followed by a rapid recovery which kick-started at the end of June as the property market “reopened”. As that happened, the percentage of move-ins quickly started to track the percentages we saw in 2019. In our earlier blog we saw that the time it takes to let a property has reduced significantly since July 2020 therefore, the relative number of move-ins has been almost the same but the timing of when they happened has been different to 2019.
What’s fuelled this recovery?
The general public is now starting to accept the pandemic as something we have to live with for now and businesses have adapted. Most letting agents have adapted their processes to allow virtual viewings and some have put in place remote application and on boarding processes to minimise face to face interactions. It seems that, with changes to living and working patterns forced by lockdown, tenants are starting to re-evaluate their home circumstances and are making property moves.
What are new tenants looking for?
For many tenants, their home is now not only a place to relax and rest but also a place to work and play in. According to a recent Rightmove survey, 49% of renters say that COVID-19 and the lockdown period has directly impacted what they are looking for in their next home. Rightmove’s survey found that renters have started to prioritise the following:
- Bigger gardens or access to a garden (59%)
- A bigger home (41%)
- Living in a pet-friendly home (29%)
- Live closer to parks & green spaces (27%)
- A home with a better workspace (26%)
What do we expect going forward?
Given the way things are going, we expect the number of move-ins to reduce as we move into autumn and winter. However, since the beginning of August we have experienced a slight increase in the number of tenants wishing to end their tenancy, which may be an indicator that we’ll see more movement in the rental market than we’re used to over the Autumn and winter months. Likewise the end of the furlough scheme in October may well impact the number of tenants looking, or forced to, to make moves. That said it’s too early to draw any clear conclusions at this stage so we’ll continue to analyse what’s going on in the market and our managed tenancies to understand the bigger picture as best we can and plan accordingly.