Agent Views

Scottish letting agents give us their views on their local market.

Grant Fairbairn

Grant Fairbairn PL, Aberdeen – Grant Fairbairn

“Q4 started strongly following on from a remarkably busy Q3. However, from mid-November onwards we did notice a lot less enquires per property listing. Historically we find the run up to Christmas does tend to be a little slower. We normally find most people will not choose to move at the end of Q4, unless necessary. In addition, Covid-19 is still causing uncertainty in the local job market which decreases the amount of people coming to the city to start new jobs etc. With the vaccine now being introduced, we hope this will help the local market early next year.”

Wendy Gallagher

One Stop Properties, Glasgow – Wendy Gallagher

“Due to the pandemic, we anticipated a drop in student lets in Q4 as we learned that some university classes would be offered online, so we were delighted that there was the usual uptake of properties and rental amounts stayed strong. However, there have been a few instances of student tenants moving out after just a few months, as their university campuses are closed and students are not able to embrace the usual student experience. We think that isolation and preservation of mental health too, has led to some tenants giving up their tenancies to be with family, rather than living in a city flat when that city is like a ghost town.”

Catriona Smith

Arden Property Mg, Edinburgh – Catriona Smith

“The last quarter of the year has been as challenging as the preceding three! The number of properties becoming available steadied at the end of last quarter with the return of students to the city, but this has increased again towards the end of the year. This, coupled with weak demand, has meant that properties are taking longer to let and consequently rents are dropping. We have as many properties available now as we did at the height of the pandemic back in April/May. It is worth noting for landlords that properties which are of a high standard are letting more quickly, so if their property has become empty, they should consider refurbishing to secure a let at the start of next year.”

Colin MacMillan

Glasgow Property Letting, Glasgow – Colin MacMillan

“The final quarter of what has been a very unusual and unprecedented year, has again been busy but most of the stock seem to be appealing to the professional sector in the PRS, and landlords are realising that to ensure longer tenancies, their properties must be presented in very good order. Home office working is high on the agenda and many landlords are considering applications from a more secure sector such as NHS and key workers, where there are less restrictions than in other sectors such as hospitality and the arts. The student market is relatively slow with many students still not able to return to studies and being advised that this may continue for the next semester at least. As such, many students have been providing notice to leave and this is giving the landlords the opportunity to upgrade their properties to a more professional standard.”

Steve Coyle

Cullen Property Ltd, Edinburgh – Steve Coyle

“Q4 has relatively slowed after a busy Q3 in which Edinburgh’s student community returned en masse. Despite the vast majority of these tenants settling in, and for the meantime staying put, remaining student stock in the city remains unusually high. One noticeable cause is that fully virtual learning - although not encouraged by university - is becoming the preferred option for a small proportion of student tenants, as they choose to move back to their hometowns to be with family. Increased supply has suppressed average rents and increased time to let figures. With prospective tenants spoiled for choice, high quality marketing of properties has become increasingly important with many tenants’ final decision being noticeably influenced by their experience at the initial enquiry stage. We anticipate this growingly competitive rental market, and the increasing expectation of flexibility on the agents’ and landlords’ part to carry well into Q1 of 2021.”

Jack Gallagher

Western Lettings, Glasgow – Jack Gallagher

“Tenant demand in Q4 was muted relative of the same quarter in recent years, particularly from students. As expected, we saw an earlier than normal slowdown at the end of the year, with demand starting to drop off in early November, rather than December. Broad market data echoes our experience, with roughly 25% more properties available in Glasgow in December compared to the same month the previous year. The expectation is now that we will see a larger than normal surge in demand in the New Year, as pent-up demand is unleashed. However, tenant demand is tempered by both the threat of stricter lockdowns and the promise of relief from vaccines.”

Ross Macleod

Macleod Lettings, Glasgow – Ross Macleod

“2020 has certainly been an interesting year for the lettings market! In spite of the restrictions put on the industry by the Covid-19 outbreak, lettings has remained consistently strong throughout the year. The demand for good quality accommodation has still been prevalent. We have seen a 15% growth in our managed stock throughout the year, as a result of referral business and further landlords coming to market. 2021 will undoubtedly see further growth in the PRS with increased investment when the market settles and the vaccine ensures a return to normality.”

Eduardo Prato

Martin & Co., Aberdeen – Eduardo Prato

“Q4 2020 saw an expected decline in the HMO student market. Many landlords who had been unsuccessfully trying to let their property by themselves, instructed us. We had to manage their expectations and put a marketing plan together. In December though, this plan paid the results we expected. Early birds for 2021 started knocking on the door. As we go through the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown, vaccination results kick in and confidence in a return to ‘face-to-face’ classes at the local universities in the second half of 2021 increases, we see a strong HMO market performance ahead.”

Andrew Markham

Burgh Property, Edinburgh – Andrew Markham

“The last quarter of 2020 ended amidst a fog of uncertainty relating to Coronavirus and Brexit, so inevitably, available stock levels were high and the number of tenants looking to move were low. Although the early part of January has come around with a flurry of activity, there is still a high number of available properties in the market, meaning tenants have a lot of choice when searching for their ideal property. Rent levels need to be keen and competitive in order to compete in the market and in some market sectors, we may see rents dipping slightly in order to minimise expensive void periods. We do expect high available stock levels to be a constant for the first half of 2021 at least. Our student portfolio is yet to be affected, but with the Q1 lockdown restrictions, we do anticipate an impact if students decide to leave Edinburgh early before the end of the spring term.”

James McKay

Aberdein Considine, Perth – James McKay

“The Perth and Dundee rental markets remained strong throughout the late autumn and early part of winter. Demand continued to outstrip supply for all types of properties from 1 bedroom flats priced around £400 per month to large family homes in excess of £1,000 per month. There is no sign of the market slowing up during the early part of 2021 with a shortage of stock in all areas being the problem to the successful functioning of the market, rather than the lockdown restrictions themselves.”

Charlie Inness

Glenham Property, Edinburgh – Charlie Inness

“The initial surge in tenant demand that the end of lockdown released has now tailed off with activity returning to near normal. Stock levels, however, have remained stubbornly high in certain postcodes. The result is that the market is patchy and price sensitive with downward pressure on rents and longer time to let periods. Properties that are being advertised need to be competitively priced and also must present well to generate interest from tenants.”

Jade Shepperdson

Aberdein Considine, Aberdeen – Jade Shepperdson

“Q4 brought a very patchy market, however, this is normal for the lead up to Christmas. Surprisingly December was extremely busy with a lot of tenants eager to move in before the festive period. We continue to find houses with outside space in high demand across the market from more affordable areas to the West End. Houses are receiving multiple offers after a matter of days on the market, which continues to show the shift in the market due to the lockdowns. The most recent lockdown will bring more uncertainty to the market, however, we are off to a strong start.”

Mike Erskine

Cox & Co., Edinburgh – Mike Erskine

“Investment has been significant in Q4 and it has been a busy few months with new property being brought to the market. With the festive season, our TTL showed their usual increase at this time of year and rents recorded a slight decrease due to the ongoing pandemic, but overall the market is turning over and remains strong. We look forward to the TTL’s reducing come spring and to getting our teeth into the challenges ahead.”

Kenneth Urquhart

Aberdein Considine, Glasgow – Kenneth Urquhart

“Last year ended with a booming private rental market in Glasgow and following lockdown in the summer, activity took off at some pace. As we moved into the autumn months, demand remained steady and there was definitely increased interest in larger properties, possibly driven by tenants searching for more homeworking office space as well as gardens, and close proximity to other outdoor spaces such as parks. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this has also meant that a number of students who leased flats for the start of the university year decided to give up their tenancies & leave Glasgow with a number of courses all being distant learning.”

Nicky Lloyd

ESPC Lettings, Edinburgh – Nicky Lloyd

“Historically Q4 sees the market become a little quieter, however we found demand remained high throughout October and November, with the market only becoming quiet during December. There had been concerns about student tenants returning to the city following the festive break as many courses have been moved online. With the exception of some overseas students, the majority remained in the property and we have not seen an increase in notice being given by students. We are already starting to receive enquiries from students looking to secure accommodation for the next academic year. Whilst there has been a reduction in rent achievable over the last quarter, it is worthwhile considering they have only been slight reductions and from all-time highs we saw the previous year. The rental market is still moving steadily and we hope that continues into 2021.”

Jonathan Gordon

Clan Gordon, Edinburgh – Jonathan Gordon

“Quarter 4 for us has seen a significant uptick in new landlords with quality flats to let in central Edinburgh. Some, but not all, are ex-Airbnb flats but others are new buy to let investments or the landlord has moved home and is letting their old home. All in all, we are continuing to see better quality flats and landlords who understand the need to do this in order to get the best tenants. We are probably seeing slightly higher numbers of notices to quit from tenants than usual for this time of year and demand from new tenants down a little. Higher supply and slightly lower demand is now starting to have downward pressure on rents but nothing too significant yet. Very difficult to plan ahead and know what will happen after Christmas but the need to renovate and provide flats in good condition is becoming more and more obvious.”

Rick McCann

At Home In Edinburgh , Edinburgh – Rick McCann

“The start of Q4 was a period of relative stability following a turbulent Q2 & Q3. We had a low level of stock on the market and relatively low turnover of properties. Our biggest concern for the end of Q4 was that students would not return and continue tenancies after the Christmas break, but this has not materialised. Some student properties negotiated lower rents, but they remain occupied. Available stock increased during December as tenants moved to larger properties to accommodate working from home and to move in with partners. The traditionally easy-to-let one-bedroom flats had a much longer TTL. We experienced a further spike in tenants giving notice with announcement of the Boxing Day restrictions.”

Karen Turner

Karen Turner - Rettie

“Like most others we too are glad to see the back of 2020. It has been a year like no other but also one which has seen positives with the market having recovered and performed well from the lockdown period. Tenant demand is still high for properties offering a bit more by way of outside space and the space to work from home. We have seen increased demand for properties out with the city which have private gardens or access to the amenities of the countryside. More rural locations have never been so popular. Tenants’ requirements are changing. Spring 2021 will be interesting to see how the market and landlords respond once the emergency Covid restrictions are lifted for evictions.”

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