Lettings market picks up momentum

By Alex Timperley, 30 April 2019

The lettings market has achieved some momentum and should continue to improve in the coming months according to the latest Agency Express Property Activity Index.

The number of properties available for rent grew by 12.6% month-on-month in February overall, with particular regions performing even more strongly than that. Wales (35.6%), the South West (21%), the West Midlands (20.1%), Central England (19.4%) and the North West (14.2%) all saw above average increases in this area.

Likewise, the volume of properties successfully let to tenants increased by an average of 8.3% across the same time period. In this area, Central England (21.2%), the West Midlands (19.4%), the East Midlands (17.4%) and the North West (13.1%) all saw above average gains.

In total, 10 out of 12 regions measured in the Index saw increases in both properties available to let and properties which were successfully let to tenants.

Managing director of Agency Express, Stephen Watson, said: “This month’s Property Activity Index has remained by and large true to trend. A few regional pockets have reported record bests, but on a whole demand continues to be greater than supply. As we now move in to April and the Easter holidays we would expect a to see a seasonal dip.”

In contrast to the momentum gained in the lettings market, a report from NAEA Propertymark shows that the residential sales market floundered somewhat in March. The flow of new sales listings contracted to an all-time low last month and follows reports from agents that the number of new homes available for sale has fallen steeply.

An average of 37 properties were available in March per branch covered by the NAEA, a reduction from the 34 properties per branch recorded in February. Despite this, the number of house hunters per branch rose by 17% in March which illustrates how competitive the residential market has become.

As well as shoring up property prices, this imbalance between supply and demand is also likely to keep people renting for longer as there are simply not enough homes to go around.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said of the report: “Despite the fact that activity in the housing market increased in March, the levels of supply and demand recorded aren’t where we would expect them to be at this time of year.

“It’s clear buyers and sellers are still feeling cautious and holding off on making any decisions in light of the current political climate and economic uncertainty. However, recent house price data indicates we might see confidence in the market grow as house prices slowly begin to return to previous levels and we edge closer to the summer months.”

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