With a doff of one’s hat to 2014 the team at Around Town Flats is greeting 2015 with open arms and a stolid belief that our new year’s resolutions will be kept this year. This new year also welcomes in our new look website and with that our new blog. We have a completely redesigned layout with simplicity, ease of use, and accessibility in mind. Our new look website also brings to the forefront our online repair request system. Links to this can be most easily found on the left of the page. We think it will be a great tool to help you get exactly what you want from us as quickly as possible no matter where you are. Our new blog is without specific agenda but with the highest expectations.
Whilst the professional market goes from strength to strength the student market as a whole has finally stabilised with the number of unlet properties at October 2014 limited to just 130 which is a vast reduction from the 500+ the year before. This increase in take up has been reflected in the increased rents we have secured over the portfolio as a whole. Within our portfolio there remain a number of unlet properties – all of which are in good locations, were competitively priced but the condition of the properties was not strong enough to secure lettings for the current academic year. A number have been refurbished over the late summer period and have now been let to professionals mainly with room shares in place. We are anticipating a significant increase in demand following the 11% increase in the number of students who started University in October 2013 and a further 4% increase in October 2014. The UCAS acceptance data for 2014 /15 entry (i.e. the number of students starting university in October 2014 who will be looking for accommodation in the 2015/16 letting cycle) shows that there has been a 4% increase in students accepting places but with one third of last year’s applicants also starting following their deferred entry the real increase is likely to be closer to 7%. As the low 2012/13 entry numbers have now worked their way out of our letting cycle we believe demand should be strong for properties in the coming months. As we are going to press slightly earlier this year we do not yet have the UCAS 2016/17 application data for dentistry / medicine courses (usually a good indicator of changes to overall application numbers).
A new contender is entering the property portal market with its eye on the prize. Agents Mutual is entering the ring to take on the heavyweights of Rightmove and Zoopla. Rightmove is undoubtedly the number one property portal in the UK. Zoopla is entering only its 7th year but has either bought or teamed up with almost every other big contender to Rightmove during this time to become the UKs second biggest property portal. The result of this is a duopoly that have started to bleed estate agents across the country dry with their high monthly charges. One solution to this has been proffered by the agents themselves. A 100% agent-owned and agent-controlled property portal where each firm has an equal interest and voting right, irrespective of firm size. The plan is to reach the scale of Rightmove and Zoopla but to charge agents at cost. The investment so far is going well with over £8M development funds provided by members. The scheme is the only portal to be endorsed by regulators of the industry NAEA and ARLA. The anticipated launch date is 26 January 2015.
This new website will roll out new content via our blog and our property search facility is updated live as new properties are listed or taken. We have also focused on greater integration with social media and we would love to hear from you.
We hope you enjoy the new website. Please feel free to send us comments or feedback. On behalf of all the Around Town Flats teams thanks for visiting.