Each month, we take 5 minutes to ask a lettings industry expert 5 things. This month we are lucky to be talking to Harriet Mc Taggart, Managing Director at Wigmore Jones.
Q. Hi Harriet. Nice to meet you and thank you for taking the time out to talk to us. We’ll start with finance I think! Savills have recently predicted a post-Brexit bounce for the UK housing market, with house prices expected to rise by an average of 15% over the next 5 years. London however will apparently significantly underperform the rest of the country. Growth is still predicted – but just at around 4%. What are your thoughts on this?
A. Well I don’t think anybody would claim to be able to predict these things with 100% accuracy, but I’d have to say I disagree with this. If you look at the land registry data for example you can see that London has out-performed, with average house prices increasing by 77%, compared to 41% for the rest of the country. A post-Brexit UK market might see increased levels of transactions, but this may not lead to an increase in prices in the rest of the country. London in fact has always outperformed because it has a solid local market and is seen as a desirable and very stable market for international buyers. Sterling has fallen in value over the last 3 years and could fall further, providing yet another incentive for overseas buyers to acquire more London property.
Q. We’ll have to wait and see on that one then! So moving on to the rental market. Research has shown that being allowed to have pets is considered by tenants to be one of the biggest perks – ranking higher even than high speed internet and parking. With this in mind, do you think we are likely to see an increase in pet-friendly rental properties?
A. I doubt it. One of the unintended consequences of the tenant fees ban is that landlords are less willing to accept pets as they cannot request a higher deposit to cover any potential damage caused by the pet. I think tenants will have to wait until they buy their own homes before they have a pet and settle for fibre optic broadband.
Q. Fair enough! I noticed on your website that you offer virtual viewings. Could you tell me a bit more about this? Is it something that’s becoming the norm now?
A. As a specialist in the sales and lettings of new homes, we found that many of our landlords are based overseas, so rarely travelled to London to actually see them – so we introduced Virtual Viewings in 2016 as they are completely interactive and really bring the property to life, letting them get a visceral sense of their investment property. Also – as the majority of our tenants are young professionals, who work long hours, virtual viewings have provided a way for them, their partner or flat mate to explore a property anytime, anywhere. It’s hard to say whether other agents will follow suit, but our landlords and tenants can rest assured that our properties will.
Q. So on the subject of change – I’d like to ask you about the structure of estate agents. There have been some dramatic changes in recent years – what with online agents and different revenue streams. Do you think it’s possible to predict the future of the estate agency business model?
A. I think it’s extremely difficult to predict what type of estate agency business models will exist in the future. You can guarantee one thing though – that change will continue. And my personal opinion is that businesses who focus on their customers needs, leverage technology and work closely with their partners to deliver a better service will grow.
Q. Sounds like you will continue to be successful then! Do you have any advice for others looking to succeed in this sector?
A. Love what you do and focus on continued improvement.
A massive thank you to Harriet for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this for us. You can further connect with Harriet over at Wigmore Jones. And of course, if you want to work with an inventory clerks who truly understand the sector, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.