It’s an increasingly uncertain time for landlords and agents at the moment, with the Government seemingly intent on squeezing every last ounce of profit from their businesses.
As such, there rightly seems to be paranoia within the industry that more and more landlords who currently use an agent will be looking seriously at cost savings in the future, considering whether they are able to self-manage their properties and, if so, cutting their agent loose in the process.
However, recent research from the National Landlords Association (NLA) may provide a timely tonic and help to settle a few nerves.
AGENT USAGE IS UP
The research shows a spike in the proportion of landlords who use a letting agent to help manage their property, with a seven per cent rise between the end of last year and the first quarter of 2017. Furthermore, the proportion of landlords who say they self-manage has decreased over the last year – falling from 46 per cent to 39 per cent.
While these may not seem like particularly monumental shifts, the spike in agent usage is somewhat out of step compared to the longer term trend. The overall proportion of landlords who use an agent has only risen by a solitary per cent between 2014 and 2016 – which as far as trends go paints a reasonably reliable picture of agent usage among landlords.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
At the very least the news should strike a positive note in what is otherwise a pretty depressing time for letting agents, many of whom have been growing ever more concerned that the supply of landlord clients will dry up in the coming days and months.
The figures also make for better reading depending on where in the UK you operate. For example it’s particularly good news for agents in the regions of outer London, the South West, and Wales – where there has been a significant increase in reliance from landlords over the past quarter. Yet in the regions of the East of England, central London, and the North West, there has been a decrease in the proportion of landlords who use an agent.
If the south of England is your stomping ground, you should be buoyed by the fact that there has been a nine per cent rise in agent use in the South East of England, and an 11 per cent rise in the South West.
Landlords in the North East are the most reliant on agents in the whole of England, experiencing a nine per cent increase over the past quarter. Yet in the North West, where there has been a five per cent decrease over the same period, landlords are the least reliant on agents compared to other UK regions.
It’s a similar picture in London, too, where agent use in central areas has decreased by six per cent, yet it has risen by 11 per cent in outer regions.
MORE THAN JUST AN ANOMALY?
We certainly hope so, but it’s probably important to note that the figures could just represent a blip. And while there have been some regional fluctuations, the overall take-home-message is that landlords are increasingly reliant on agents at present.
Through our unique relationship with the NLA we will of course be monitoring the trend carefully over the coming months to see how it plays out, but we certainly still expect tough times ahead for agents. However, it may just be that, in these uncertain times for buy-to-let, landlords need all the professional help they can get right now.
JOIN UKALA TODAY
UKAKA is the only association for letting agents that offers members a low-cost and more flexible monthly instalment plan to help manage the cost of running your business.
Join today by calling 020 7820 7900 or visiting www.ukala.org.uk to access our full range of benefits and services, including:
- Free telephone advice on landlord-tenant issues
- Unrivalled access to landlords through our unique relationship with the NLA, including free Recognised Agent Scheme status worth £2,500 per year
- Client Money Protection for landlords and tenants (if not already with an existing scheme)
- Membership of the Property Redress Scheme
- Tax Investigation Insurance (terms and conditions apply)
- Professional training and qualifications
- Discounts on a range of products and services including deposit protection and tenant referencing