• Tracy McGregor

Anything changed?

Earlier this week I was asked by The Association of Residential Letting Agents to contribute to a survey about changes that might have happened to the productivity in my office since the Brexit referendum.

Have rents decreased? Has demand gone down? Am I still receiving the same number of enquiries from Buy-to-Let Landlords?

My initial feeling was to defend the market and firmly state, ‘Nothing’s changed!’ however I wanted hard facts to back that up.

We’ve been in the EU for 43 years, I don’t remember a time when we weren’t ‘in’ as at 2 years old I wasn’t particularly politically aware.

I’ve considered what the rental market picture looked like in 1973 at the point we joined the EU. Back then there was a clear class division surrounding housing; those who could afford it, owned their houses and those who couldn’t rented, mostly from local authorities but also from privately owned estates. Generally, tenants would remain in the same property for many years and sometimes pass a rental house to the next generation much as though it was owned; this is extremely rare now.

The average length of a tenancy now is 19 months. Society has become much more aspirational and our homes are so much more than a safe place to raise a family. The Right to Buy scheme of 1980 meant that council tenants had the opportunity to buy their council house which gave millions of households a financial asset and provided financial security at the same time; surely a good thing..? Some argue this created a housing shortage for low-income families and the boom in the private rental sector was born.

It’s impossible to look back at a pre-EU picture for the private rental market, as it barely existed before we were ‘in’ and the changes to how we live have been gradual, our housing patterns are unrecognisable, at least in the South East.

Central London properties aren’t so much homes nowadays,

they are commodities. Many remain unoccupied,

not because of a lack of demand,

they are simply not seen as homes

but as a vehicle to uplift capital.

Thankfully, in Eastbourne and along the South Coast, properties are homes and the demand is incredibly strong, unaltered since the Brexit referendum. For every property we market, we have a stream of enquiries from high quality tenants. Buy-to-Let Landlords are buying for many reasons, it isn’t entirely driven by hard nosed capitalism. Some people will buy their retirement home ten to fifteen years in advance of living in it so they can pay today’s price; the property will provide an income in the interim.

Another example is where parents want to plan ahead for their children’s house buying needs and again prefer to pay today’s price. This will provide a fantastic platform for the next generation - whether they decide to live in it in the future or use the capital increase to springboard their own home buying needs.

Other people buy a property in Eastbourne as a second home and then decide to let it for part of the year. There are many reasons why people are still investing in property in this wonderful town.

Some things don’t change it seems.

Eastbourne is always going to be a great place to live.

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