Property News: Rental oversupply on the horizon?

In our last property news article we asked “what influences you when choosing lettings agents”? The results were clear; reputation and recommendations are what matters to you the most.

Reputation and recommendations accounted for half of the answers submitted, whilst membership of a professional scheme (eg ARLA, London Rental Standard) came in at third place. It’s easy to cast aspersions based on the results, but it does strongly suggest to me that potential tenants are often overwhelmed (or should that be underwhelmed?) by high street lettings agencies and turn to friends, family and social media to seek out an agent they can start to trust.

There seems to a consensus that the higher the rent the better the lettings agent will be. This saddens me as there should be no correlation between product price and service in the lettings industry; every potential tenant regardless of budget or location is entitled to a professional, transparent service when renting a home. It’s easy to compete with other agents when they don’t even offer a basic professional service, but I’d much rather there was a minimum standard all had to adhere to in the industry. If this was the case all good lettings agencies would push themselves further, seeking to go above and beyond in order to offer the best possible customer experience.

July to September are traditionally the busiest months in the lettings calendar with new stock coming onto the market from July. This cyclical calendar caters to students and new graduates who typically search for properties ahead of courses and graduate schemes starting in September. This year international students drove the demand, mostly due to the area’s proximity to several excellent universities and business schools. Now we are in October stock is starting to dry up and we don’t have enough properties to cater for the demand.

This month it has been really interesting to see where new business has come from. We’ve seen a significant shift in landlord demographic, with 50% of new instructions coming from first time landlords. These new landlords have often been seconded overseas and are looking to rent their own homes out in order to maintain an investment in London.

Last Property News we used HomeLet rental index data to show that average rental values in North West London were £1,739pcm. One month later and the rental index shows average rents increased to £1,750pcm. This is now similar to the average rents in South West London of £1,785pcm, and 19.5% above the average rental price for Greater London which stands at £1,464pcm.

Although rents are currently strong in West Hampstead, a potential risk to the local rental market is the level of new stock being brought to the market by developers and overseas investors. Until a few years ago West Hampstead was relatively untapped for investments, but now the area has been found by those attracted to strong capital growth rather than rental yield.

The brand new developments being constructed on West End Lane, Maygrove Road and Iverson Road will see rental supply increase dramatically in 2015 and 2016. At this point we expect rents to come under pressure with a potential dampening effect on rental growth across a wider area, despite a broader and deeper pool of tenants.

Demand will continue to be strong and I’m confident that the best of West Hampstead is yet to come. We’ve always had excellent independent shops and the arrival of a greengrocer’s earlier this year and the promise of a butcher in the near future ensures the high street is catering to local’s daily needs.

On the topic of food, we’re lucky to have a great view of the new daily food market from our office and encourage you try it out if you’re yet to do so! We’ve noticed increased footfall between 4pm-8pm and we hope it continues to do well. Friendly vendors, excellent food and communal seating areas all add to the village feel; it might be a cliché but West Hampstead feels more like a community than ever.

Spencer Lawrence
Lettings Director
Paramount Properties
150 West End Lane
West Hampstead
020 7644 2314

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