On average, we're securing lets on around 30 properties per week during lockdown, which is approximately 25% of what we'd normally do. All of these lettings are being secured via video viewings, with the tenancy signings being done electronically.
With the Government's advice being to only move home if it's absolutely essential, enquiries from prospective tenants are on the low side, but our relative success shows they do exist. Our advice to landlords is to accept a slightly longer than normal void/empty period if it means securing tenants ‘today'. On top of this, advertised rental properties need to be as attractive as possible, which we'd suggest means a monthly rent that's the same as what the current tenants are paying because now is not a good time to be seeking a rent increase. We've had some landlords accept slightly lower, in fact, on the basis an empty property is no good to anyone. As always, we'd also recommend lowering the requested deposit from the traditional ‘equivalent of a month's rent' figure, e.g. £150 per tenant.
We've agreed 8 sales since lockdown started and, perhaps surprisingly, we're getting a very healthy number of viewing enquiries for the majority of our advertised properties for sale. All of these interested buyers are being contacted and their intent to view registered for when normal service resumes. Where possible, we're also providing walkthrough videos sent to us by helpful vendors, which is where 4 of the sales agreed have stemmed from.
The above offers encouraging signs that there are still high levels of demand and confidence within the market during these unprecedented times.
With the vast majority of solicitors working from home, we've been able to complete on 4 transactions and we continue to work incredibly closely with all parties in order to nurture our progressing sales. There has been fantastic understanding from everyone involved and the vast majority of buyers and sellers remain fully committed.
Will the new university year start as normal in September, or will it be limited to online learning only for the first semester? Nobody knows for sure, but what we do know is that we usually let around 175 HMOs for the following academic year in this April-June period, so there must be a good deal of student groups currently sat at home without a Cardiff house for next year.
We've managed to secure a number of lets on HMOs at distance, but we sense the majority of students are waiting to see how the situation plays out before parting with deposits and signing on the dotted line. Of those who have enquired, they've nearly all asked to start their new tenancy in September, rather than July or August, in order to avoid paying rent earlier than they need to; which is something landlords of available properties should now be open to.
We recently donated £5,000 towards a fundraiser organised by local businesses providing free food to NHS staff across Cardiff & The Vale. We want to look after them as they look after us. With staff working longer hours and there being a lack of food options available currently, the aim is to ensure they don't go hungry or live off processed fast food. The businesses involved offer healthy, nutritious food to fuel the staff at the hospitals.
Over 12,600 meals have now been served, and we're told our donation will help feed a hospital the size of Llandough Hospital for two weeks. More information.