The lettings business is often seasonal, with quieter winter months leading to a frenzy of lettings activity over the summer. Add to that an unpredictable economy and it’s easy to see why the market can be so changeable.
That’s the scenario we’ve seen in Hampstead and Highgate this year – we had a very good start to the spring but enquiries for properties in Hampstead and Highgate were down 39% in May, the biggest dip we’ve ever seen. Thankfully, June was a good month and enquiries are back up to their usual seasonal levels, in fact, demand for three bed properties is up 22% in Hampstead compared to the first quarter of 2013.
However there is an oversupply of two bed conversions across the NW3 and N6 postcodes. Two bed apartments with two bathrooms are in higher demand than those with only one as they appeal to professional sharers for whom two bathrooms are essential.
It’s interesting that we’re now seeing a different type of applicant with more complex requirements. More Europeans are looking at the Hampstead area because of the great schools and the outdoor lifestyle that comes with living near the Heath. Highgate’s proximity to the Heath and its charming, villagey vibe make it popular too. Scandinavians in particular prefer lateral living and aren’t keen on the split level conversions and maisonettes which make up much of the housing stock in NW3 so we have to work hard to find them the sleek, modern apartments they want.
One thing all applicants have in common is that they demand value for money. They might look at more than 10 properties before making a decision and, with plenty of choice in N6 and NW3, it’s a tenant’s market. They’ll usually ask for precise details about a property, such as its square footage and room sizes, and only view properties that meet their criteria, so it’s more important than ever for us to match applicants to suitable homes. Our staff know Hampstead well and spend time getting to know the properties on our books so when we receive an enquiry from an applicant or relocation agent, we’ll know immediately what is likely to appeal – and what isn’t.
With fewer tenants around, landlords should regularly review their property and make sure its presentation is up to scratch, particularly bathrooms and kitchens. The market has changed considerably in the last year so be realistic on asking rentals. Rents are stable but you may need to be more flexible. As with any long term investment, always allow for peaks and troughs in the market. It’s always better to agree a slightly lower rental than risk a void period.
View all posts by Anita Mehra