That 'G' word is back in town!
Yep, boys and girls, gazumping is here and knocking on the front door of every potential tenant!
The former and current scourge of the property sales has transgressed over to the private lettings sector and is showing no sign of leaving.
Such is the massive demand for residential accommodation, private tenants have resorted to the tactic of increasing their offer above their fellow property pursuers. In many scenarios, both letting agents and landlords have stated that tenants should submit a sealed bid offer to stand a chance of securing their new rental home. Up until recently this was practically unheard of but due to Government austerity measures, students, migration increase, overseas property investors and the near impossibility of professionals, both young and old, struggling to purchase properties, this I'm afraid is our reality!
London has been and is ever increasing the destination of choice, predominantly due to the financial power of the City and as such the equilibrium of supply and demand is in fifth gear. In some areas, such as Clapham & Hackney, rents have risen significantly and in some cases by over 30%.
For example, the recent success of the London 2012 Olympics has driven up the rental prices in Stratford from £250 per week to near £400 per week...for a 1 bedroom flat! (I know that landlords, agents and tenants based elsewhere in the UK must be in shock and awe at what you've just read)
The days of 'Ooooming and ahhhhming' are well and truly over as rental properties are snapped up almost as soon as they become available on the rental property market.
As a result many new and innovative property businesses are cropping up and are developing services solely towards this type of growing phenomena.
London, as always, is leading the explosion for residential rental demands in the UK but it is closely followed by Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
So if you're a tenant and you're wandering how to get on the lettings ladder, how do you get on the first rung?
Well, I have 3 pieces of advice:
The first would be to register with as many agents as possible both on and offline. Particularly the ones that are specialising in anti-gazumping services. Many mainstream letting agents still operate on a first-come-first-served-basis so it might be worth registering with those which enter you in a lottery and you have a fairer chance of success.
The 2nd would be to lower your expectations. Now, I know this might raise an eyebrow or two, or three (depending on how many of you are reading this at the same time) but as mentioned earlier 'time' is not on your side and you can't afford the luxury of 'seeing how it goes' and being too picky. Now, I'm not saying that you should accept the first draughty, bad odour and leaking roof property that becomes available. However, don't automatically ignore properties located in a tower block, or needs some slight TLC or even because it's in 'that part of town'.
Be smart and think about it, it's a roof over your head. It's not a Penthouse on London's Park Lane. Please be realistic!
The 3rd and final piece of advice is to have patience. We're living in an age where everything is on demand and an 'I-want-it-now' culture has developed. Yes, you may want that lovely place near to the station or just near to your work place but always leave room for that element of disappointment. There will be other places that will become available, trust me!