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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.

Is now the right time to invest in property?

Inspired Sales & Acquisitions is the soul of Finders Keepers. We started as a search service (it’s the “Finders” in our name) and over the years we have bought hundreds of properties for investors of all sizes. Today, the department deals with sales as well as helping investors to identify and acquire investment properties, with a focus on bespoke service.

We believe that this last year has shown Oxfordshire’s strength as a county and while it has not been immune to the effects of the global pandemic, it has performed well: at 3.8% unemployment remains well below the national average of 6.4%; we have highly qualified workers in top positions; and the many growth sectors provide potential for job creation in the region.

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If you can’t beat them, don’t join the queue

The stamp duty holiday, introduced last year and currently due to end at the end of March, undoubtedly helped to fuel the sales market over the last seven months or so. However, as the deadline approaches and with the current time to completion sitting at 126 days, many buyers will not benefit from the stamp duty discount.

With the chance of completing a sale by the end of March declining, some sales are falling through as buyers and sellers are starting to realise they may miss the deadline. A survey by the Guild of Property Professionals showed that nearly a third of buyers would ditch their potential purchase if completion took them beyond the deadline, and recent Rightmove data shows that the proportion of property sales that fell through in January was 7% higher than the previous year.

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2021: The Year Ahead

“With the general election concluded and Brexit on the horizon, 2020 is set to be an interesting year. There will undoubtedly be changes which will impact landlords, and although some of the detail remains cloudy at this point, our eight offices are set to deal with the changing face of the private rental sector (PRS).”

That was our introductory paragraph to last year’s ‘2020 outlook’, and we were not wrong when we said it was set to be an interesting year. At the start of last year we, like many other agencies, were expecting a bounce in activity due to renewed confidence following the General Election (and the Government’s conviction to leave the UK bringing some form of certainty to the future). What the market actually experienced was a solid start followed by a seven week shutdown and enormous dip before rebounding when the market reopened in May (Figure 1). A soothsayer, we are not! Nevertheless, we have taken a measured view of the year ahead:

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A busy start to November

The announcement that the housing market could remain open during the second national lockdown in England was welcome news. We have had a very busy few months across all of our offices, with applicant enquiries up year-on-year. Some applicants are, of course, moving out of London as they work from home more, while some are relocating for work and others are moving within Oxfordshire to upsize or downsize. This solid demand has meant that we have seen many properties letting very quickly – sometimes even before we market them online. Last week was particularly successful across our offices:

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Let your home while you relocate

We have seen an increase in the number of home owners contacting us because they are considering letting their property to enable their next move.

We have had an extremely busy summer, with applicant demand being the highest we have seen for the last few years. All types and sizes of properties have been letting well, and in many cases we have secured tenants for some landlords in a matter of days.

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Have you considered letting?

A recent report* shows that homes in Oxford take the longest to sell, with properties being on the market for an average of 152 days – more than five months – before being sold. At the same time, we have seen an increase in the number of landlords and home owners contacting us because they are considering letting where they have struggled to sell in recent months.

Home owners letting to buy
Let-to-buy is when a home owner rents out their existing home and buys a new one to live in. This can benefit those who have found their next property but are struggling to sell the existing one due to market conditions. Letting out your home could facilitate your onward move and free you up to purchase your ‘dream home’. You could then revisit selling the original property once the market improves, potentially even selling with a tenant in situ.

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Is the property market feeling better?

Quarter 3 has been the most ‘typical’ quarter of 2020. The usual ‘busy summer months’ saw strong demand for quality properties of all sizes and locations and we let 10% more properties this year compared to the same period in 2019. It is no surprise that coronavirus continues to dominate much of the news; not only is there concern about a second wave or even a localised lockdown in Oxford, but there is concern of the economic effect over the coming weeks and months. We approach the autumn and winter with cautious optimism – more than aware that we are not yet through the woods and this ‘recovery’ could be thrown into chaos.

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