Views on the re-opening of Letting Agents

AFS Team·23 May 2020·4 min read
Views on the re-opening of Letting Agents

The majority of letting agents and landlords responding to our recent poll believe that allowing letting agents to re-open in England was a good idea. 80% of respondents agreed that the decision was the correct one and just 4% felt it was not.

The poll, aimed at both agents and landlords, followed the announcement that agents in England were able to re-open on the 13th of May and conduct property viewings. This decision formed part of a raft of measures aimed at easing the lockdown restrictions in England, which provoked much debate following the announcement.

Despite this wider controversy, the ability of letting agents to begin operation again has been welcomed by those within the sector. In addition to the positive attitude towards the decision, the majority of agents that responded do plan on re-opening their offices. Just 5% are not planning to open in the short term. It was also interesting to note that 50% of agents operating outside of England would open their branches if they had the choice.

While the decision was welcomed by many, only 1/3rd of respondents felt that the announcement had been handled well by the Government. The primary issue raised was the relatively short notice provided, which did not give much time to prepare.

In a clear sign of eagerness to get the student housing market moving again 90% of respondents were willing to conduct viewings of properties. Of these 40% would only conduct a viewing of a vacant property. This is despite the relative lack of certainty about the government’s guidelines on conducting viewings safely, with only 44% clear on the implications of those guidelines

‘Pent up’ demand

While the wider property industry has ‘talked up’ the prospect of pent up demand following the easing of lockdown, those in the student accommodation sector are a little more cautious. Around ¼ of those responding were anticipating a busy period, with students eager to secure housing for the next academic year. However 50% were not sure if this demand would materialise, reflecting the lack of clarity from Universities on their status in September.

Despite this, both agents and landlords are reporting healthy levels of viewing requests and 20% of those responding to the poll had enquiries from students who were looking for viewings with explicit social distancing arrangements in place.

This experience mirrors that of Accommodation for Students, which has continued to experience year on year growth in enquiry levels and more students requesting special viewing arrangements. This reflects the confidence among many students that they will be returning to University in September.