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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.

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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Proactive letting leads to record-breaking summer

Our Central Oxford office has had an extremely busy summer, letting 109 properties between the start of June and the end of August. This is impressive not only because it broke any previous records held for the team, but because they were able to achieve this success in very challenging times. Many of these properties were snapped up really quickly, including the examples below.

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Landlord Licensing in Oxford

Oxford City Council has launched a public consultation on two licensing schemes aimed at improving conditions in the private rented sector (PRS). Following agreement by the cabinet on 9th September, the council is seeking views on its intention to:

Extend the current ‘additional’ licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) until 2026
A house in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by three or more people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g. a family) but share facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom. In 2011 Oxford became the first council in England to introduce a citywide scheme requiring every HMO to be licensed, ensuring the property meets safety standards among other things. The current scheme is due to expire in January 2021 and consultation is required as a condition of renewing the scheme for another five years.

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