The signs are very positive: we’re buoyant about 2021-2022.
In the last few months, we’ve written a lot about the impact coronavirus has had and will continue to have on the student lettings market. We told landlords to expect change in how and when properties are viewed and secured for next academic year, and we explained what the ‘new norm’ at Cardiff universities is looking like.
There was a worry students would wait and see how things are panning out before committing to a house for next year, but the feedback we’ve had is that they’re expecting to be back to relative normality next September, so are happy to secure a property now.
So much so, while a lot of things have changed, the number of properties we’re renting for next academic year at this early stage hasn’t!
Enquiry levels are as high as they’ve ever been at this stage, meaning we’ve housed 950+ students so far this November and have a jam-packed diary full of appointments between now and the Christmas break.
The vast majority of our lets have been agreed thanks to our fantastic new walkthrough videos, which have reduced the need to physically attend properties.
Whilst physical viewings are allowed now and we’ll do them wherever possible, visiting a house occupied by another group of students isn’t top of everyone’s to do list, especially with reports of the virus being rife in universities recently. Even if there is a group happy to look around, we need the current tenants to allow access, which doesn’t always happen.
We knew access would be difficult, so we needed another way of agreeing lets, which is where our videos have come in incredibly handy. We’ve captured over 400 houses in the last eight weeks; a service we’re offering free of charge to our managed landlord clients.
Our new, full-time videographer is brilliant at what he does, but he can’t work miracles :-)
Our message to landlords is that it’s vital their property views well in photos and video. Ordinarily, a student would physically view 10-15 houses before making a decision. With us by their side, we’d be able to tell them how the bedroom sizes are much bigger than you’d find in other houses or that work is planned for the summer, but we lose that opportunity when everything is done off a screen. Now, students will be selecting based on visual appeal only, so make sure your property is photo and video-ready.
How do you do that? By carrying out improvements now, rather than later. If you’re already planning on putting a new sofa in next summer, do it now because it can be included in the marketing photos/video. Seeing is believing; it’s bound to help generate interest. Equally, why not do the more intrusive work over the Christmas period, when students are typically away? There’s no inconvenience to them and, again, we can feature the finished product in our marketing material.
If you’re used to your property going before Christmas and, for one reason or another, it doesn’t this year, our advice is not to panic.
The new Spring semester doesn’t start until 1st February 2021, so we’re unlikely to see students return much before then, but we always let more properties between January and April than we do in November and December.