The Welsh housing market is now fully re-open, albeit with certain guidance to be followed for viewings. We’re encouraged to conduct virtual viewings in the first instance and, due to the high levels of demand we’re currently receiving, many tenants are continuing to take properties without physically going to see the property, through fear of missing out if they wait.
With interest rates at all-time lows, savers are looking for ways to earn on their nest eggs, so we’ve seen a rush of investors looking to scoop up any deals. The mortgage market has rebounded well, with many lenders loosening their criteria, dropping rates and increasing LTVs. We’re still not at the same levels as the pre-COVID market, but we’re certainly getting there in terms of re-mortgages, new acquisitions, etc. This all means any and every tempting investment purchase is being snapped up extremely quickly.
Landlords have been asking us for our thoughts on the security of the student and professional markets in recent months. Since 1st August, the grants available to employers via the Government’s furlough scheme have reduced, and the scheme will stop altogether at the end of October. Between now and then – and beyond – a large number of working professionals are expected to lose their jobs or see their hours cut. The hospitality industry, in which many young professionals work, has suffered tremendously at the hands of coronavirus, so we’ve already seen tenants who rely on income from these roles fall behind on their rent. We sincerely hope this isn’t a sign of worse things to come and are keeping our fingers crossed for all concerned.
In comparison, students are continuing to see their loans paid in full, which on the face of it appears to make the market significantly more secure. We appreciate that many students rely on part-time work to supplement their loans, but our figures show that virtually all student rents have been paid in full in the last few months.
Two months ago, Cardiff’s three universities all announced they will take a blended learning approach to the upcoming academic year, meaning courses will be delivered partly on campus and partly online. There has been no word since on how they will operate the first term (Sept-Dec). We believe certain courses with a practical element will require students to be on-site, but that hasn’t been confirmed, and we don’t know what that means for those without needing to do practical work. There’s a possibility they won’t be on campus until January at the earliest. Cardiff University have told students they will be in touch in mid-August to confirm their arrangements.
Despite the uncertainty, the appetite to go to university has remained strong. UCAS said that an additional 6,500 UK 18-year-olds have applied to start degree courses for the upcoming academic year, compared to the year previous. This tallies with the level of enquiries from prospective tenants we’re currently receiving. With worldwide travel seemingly out of the equation and gap-year jobs at a premium, where better to continue your education than at Cardiff University; one of the UK’s leading educational establishments and part of the renowned Russell Group.