LetBritain CEO Fareed Nabir
Since 2001, the number of UK households coming to rely on the private rental sector has increased substantially. Representative of rising urbanisation and population growth trends, Britain’s population of private landlords now plays a critical role within the housing market, which is only expected to rise over the coming decade. By 2025, PWC estimates that the number of people living in privately rented housing will rise by 1.8 million.
Altogether, this trend has resulted in a rapidly quickening letting market, with the speed of business causing landlords, agents and tenants particular concern. Particularly in London, many tenants now feel the need to make an instant decision when viewing a property for fear of being pipped to the post by a faceless adversary in a global market of competing bids.
Facing unrelenting demand for residential real estate, property investors have made early attempts to utilise the power of technology to better manage property letting and management procedures. Whilst high street letting agents have typically relied on the costly and time-consuming process of phone calls, post, and scheduled meetings, the most savvy of real estate professionals have sought ways to marry the speed of online and app-based platforms with the peace of mind provided by traditional letting industry procedures.
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As a result, the UK is now a leading global hub for proptech innovation with leading start-ups such as LetBritain, SPCE, Property Partner and Trussle generating widespread acclaim for their innovative approach to the industry’s core processes. Over the coming years it is of critical importance that the nation’s community of property investors and landlords are able to identify the best platform for their property, tailored to their individual requirements and property investment goals.
After all, it may soon no longer be possible to secure a suitable market rental value from an offline partner with whom you might have a preferred relationship. With more and more consumers going online for the most basic of purchases such as buying groceries, as well as finding a new job, the high street may soon lose its ability to secure the best deal for each party involved in a tenancy.
To examine the changes that are taking place as a result of technological innovation, LetBritain recently conducted a research poll among more than 2,000 UK adults. The results of this revealed that 51% of UK adults already buy most products and services online, rising to 68% among 18-34 year olds. What’s more, almost a third of people (31%) already view high street letting agents as outdated, owning to an excessive paperwork burden. Worryingly, the majority (57%) of respondents expect that businesses with a poor online presence will be replaced by online-only or app-based competitors within a decade.
The results of LetBritain’s latest research report presents concerning reading for many across the country’s property sector. Bricks and mortar letting agents are considered by many to play an outsized role in an increasingly digital industry with tenants wanting to rent a new home increasingly reticent towards the prospect of being forced to take days off work to travel to and from letting agent offices and property viewings.
What’s clear is that the creaks in the UK letting system are really beginning to show. Previous research conducted by LetBritainalso found that almost two-fifths of landlords do not feel the existing rental system is fit for purpose in light of the speed and demand within the market, rising to 50% in London. Meanwhile, 40% of tenants feel that the process has become unethical, with preferred relationships, phantom properties and gazumping becoming widely feared practices.
In light of these findings, tech solutions may be the saving grace for the letting market, allowing the industry to scale and speed up its operations while ensuring that verification standards to not fall by the wayside in an era of unprecedented demand. The future before us is a mobile, transparent, speedy and global letting infrastructure that looks set to more equitably balance the interests of tenants and landlords, bringing about a much more efficient and convenient future.