Preparing for the future – As I See It!
By Heidi Shackell, CEO of The Lettings Hub
Welcome back to my new monthly blog – “As I See It!”
As we lose the last of the summer sun, the new colours and scents mark the start of autumn, the season of transition. The leaves on the trees are changing colour and will eventually fall away to make way for fresh new buds in the spring. Meanwhile, animals are preparing for the cold weather, collecting their supplies, getting ready to hibernate and planning ahead. For many reasons, autumn is my favourite season, and I always see October as a month both of reflection, and preparation.
At home, the children enjoyed the last beach day of the year, and we’ve also been getting the hay stored securely undercover before the weather turns – ready for the winter ahead.
The end of the busy season – is it time to do things differently?
For our industry, the traditional busy season has come to an end, and the days should feel less hectic. However, I hear you! The impact of increased tenant demand alongside a reduced supply of properties available to rent means that we’re seeing many more tenants apply for each property advertised – and so no-one is quite feeling it yet.
Rightmove has been in the news this week, announcing that there are as many as 25 enquiries for each newly listed property for rent. Sadly, this means that the reality is that many tenants won’t get a look in when some new properties are advertised for rent. Why waste your time, and their heartache showing them a home they’ll never be accepted for?
Now could be a good time to consider how success is measured. For example, I’ve always been intrigued to understand why some negotiators are targeted and measured on viewings. Surely, it’s better all round to do as few viewings as possible? This saves both yours, and the tenant’s time. So, when you have a property available to rent, what questions could you ask, and what pre-vetting could you be doing instead?
A Property Passport service could be a great way to reduce the number of tenants you have on a shortlist for a property. The tenant can get a free credit check and residency status check before you even set foot out of the office. Particularly pertinent right now, because no one wants to visit properties late at night, as the cold evenings draw in.
Meanwhile, at The Lettings Hub, we have a busy few months ahead as we plan for the future. We’re both attending, and holding a number of important events – including The Negotiator Awards, where we’ve been shortlisted for two awards; and I am so proud of the whole team.
We also have a packed programme of improvements to BOX, including new integrations and handy enhancements, and we’re preparing for the busy claims season with the inevitable burst pipes and storm damage insurance claims we start to see at this time of year.
Are fuel prices on the rise again?
It seems we’re going to have a sunny weekend ahead, thankfully! However, it will be short-lived, and so as the nights draw in and we start layering up, and thinking about putting the heating back on, we need to be even more conscious of the costs.
Fuel prices may initially start to fall, we are expecting fluctuations as wholesale prices will continue to affect consumer prices. We know that energy suppliers are being ultra-cautious after a particularly turbulent 18 months. However, as the Energy Bills Support Scheme which gave every household a discount on their fuel costs ended in March this year, we are all going to start to feel the impact of fuel costs. So, of course, will our tenants.
Maybe now is the right time to prepare for the future.
We’re seeing 90% of tenants fix their fuel prices; a sharp increase on the 45% rate we had seen previously. Although fuel costs can fall as well as rise, most of us like the certainty of a fixed price so we can budget.
The reality is that disposable income is likely to be lower for all households and that means that saving money is going to be important for everyone – including your tenants. We can provide all of our agents with a handy email which they can send to all of their tenants – or their employees – allowing them to check they’re on the best tariff before the cold temperatures of winter really kick in.
If you’d like to learn more, please book a calendar appointment here. You can chat with our team about how our fuel price fixing service can help your tenants during the cost-of-living crisis.
After all, preparing now for future fuel bills can be so important when it comes to ensuring your tenants can afford their rent during the hardest months.
The Lettings Hub takes to the airwaves
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been preparing to launch a new podcast series – Let’s Talk Lets. I’ll be regularly chatting to experts from across the PRS. Get ready to tune in for the first episode dropping onto your favourite podcast provider very soon!
It’s a casual, easy listening series – reflecting on the latest in our industry. I’ll be chatting with both colleagues and industry experts as we dive into the detail behind the headlines and on the subjects we think you’ll find interesting. If you’d like to join us on a future episode, please, be our guest!
Last month, we celebrated our Operations Director – Sarah Higgins’ – fifth anniversary since she joined The Lettings Hub. It is brilliant working with Sarah again. We first met not long after we both left school, when we worked together; twice, in fact! That was before I set up The Lettings Hub, and before she left the UK to live in Canada. When I reflect on what’s changed in our industry and what has stayed the same over this time, my respect for Sarah’s attention to detail and passion for operational effectiveness is unwavering. Without sacrificing quality Sarah is passionate about getting the best from her people, and her ability to shave unnecessary seconds and minutes from every process is something I saw in Sarah when we first worked together over twenty years ago.
Meanwhile, later this month we are going to welcome Martin Harrison back to the team. I’m thrilled he’s decided to rejoin the Hub. Martin was previously one of our team leaders, but he chose to pursue a career in recruitment, sales and relationships. Now is perfect timing for us both though, as we had a vacancy which was just right for him, and he was ready to fill it.
How do you feel when one of your colleagues leaves your company, and what do you think about them returning?
When people leave the Hub, we rarely feel that we are saying goodbye for ever. Sometimes people need a break, or to make a lifestyle change. And I have always welcomed and respected this.
Sometimes people need to make changes to their own lives because it is right for their own futures. And that was certainly the case for both Sarah and Martin. As we celebrate the return of a colleague, and the fifth anniversary of another, I feel we’re entering the new season with a drive, passion and sense of positivity for the season ahead.