Residential lettings specialists at Garness Jones have been ‘amazed’ by the demand for rental properties across Hull and the East Riding since the lockdown restrictions were eased – with enquiries busier now than they were at the start of the year.
Many properties being marketed on behalf of landlords are ‘being snapped up’ within days – with a clear lift in demand for houses providing their own outdoor space and garden areas.
“It has been an amazingly busy period over the past few weeks. We have brought our entire residential property team back from furlough and it is fair to say we are all as busy as we have ever been,” said residential lettings manager Matt Johnson.
“There has been a clear shift towards houses with outdoor spaces and gardens - that has been an obvious change.
“Before the lockdown we had many people come to us who had no real preference between a house or an apartment or flat, but we have seen a clear increase in people specifically asking about outdoor areas and gardens, which is understandable given the time we have all spent at home.
“The other reasons for the surge are less easy to pinpoint, although we have seen people specifically say they want bigger properties, and some actively looking to reduce their lower monthly rental costs.
“Again, these can perhaps be linked to the lockdown impact as some families will have realised the need for more room, other people are having to tighten their belts and save money where they can as it is also a challenging time financially for many.
“It has certainly, in our experience, ignited the residential lettings market again and we are actually currently busier than before we went into lockdown. There have been many properties in the past few weeks we could have let four or five times over.”
Virtual viewings of properties still proving popular and efficient
Mr Johnson says that although his team have returned in full, they have not returned to working in the same way as before lockdown, with new systems introduced to adhere to social distancing and lockdown rules continuing to be used, both for safety reasons and efficiencies.
“Viewings were obviously well down at the height of the pandemic and lockdown but we were able to offer virtual video viewings which were very popular,” Mr Johnson added.
“We made sure we used the period to develop our library of video tours on properties which were empty and this is something which is still proving really popular and useful now, as it gives us an opportunity to show prospective tenants around a property, and give them a good feeling for the layout and flow, without that first initial physical viewing.
“We have had firm commitments from these virtual viewings. We always do a final physical meeting at the property itself before signing, but only once has somebody decided against a property they had said they wanted following a virtual tour.
“It has made the process much more efficient for our team, and for the client, with much less time wasted.”
Looking forward, Mr Johnson says he expects more work to come the firm’s way from landlords of multiple properties, given the many new issues faced in light of the pandemic.
“This situation has brought a whole new set of issues to people who let out a number of properties, from tenants being unable to pay their rents to difficulties finding tradesmen to carry out maintenance and essential testing,” he said.
“As a business which supports thousands of landlords across the region, that is our bread and butter, so we can take away those headaches and worries which come with renting out residential spaces.
“I am certain there will be more landlords needing dedicated support in the months to come.”
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