Residential lettings shrug off effects of the crunch

by Scott Douglas

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

The current credit crunch in the UK may mean a slowdown for many parts of the economy but the residential letting sector is flying at the start of 2008.

Scotland’s leading letting portal Citylets has recorded its busiest January to date with 80,000 searches launched for property to rent in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the first three weeks of the year.

In the capital that is a rise of 24.7% on 2007, while for Glasgow it represents a 19.4% increase.

Managing Director Thomas Ashdown said that while the effects of the credit crunch are giving many businesses recession jitters, the letting sector is positively thriving.

He added: “It only stands to reason that we are seeing an increase in demand in the letting sector, something we have been expecting over the last six months, but we’re all a bit taken aback at the size and speed of the increase. Most noticeably demand for two bed properties in Edinburgh has shot up by over 30%.

The Citylets findings have been echoed at major letting agents in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

 Steven Currie at DJ Alexanders, said:  “It’s been an exceptionally busy time for us – every second call in January was for two-bed flats.”

Shaban Rehman at Lets Direct in Glasgow added: “It’s been a very busy January indeed compared to last year and our enquiries have increased by about 30 per cent.”

Thomas said the credit crunch and volatility on the global stock market have all contributed to the talk of economic adversity, meaning people are wary of buying homes – while others simply will not be granted mortgages.

He added: “This will drive more people to rent and for longer and we expect the demand for properties will continue to soar well into Q3 of 2008. This is good news for private landlords and their agents but tenants should expect to see rent rises in some areas.”

Citylets is Scotland’s most popular rental portal and over the past seven years has become many people’s first port of call when they are looking for a new home.

Its leading position was significantly boosted by the signing up of 10 new offices in the first trading week of the year, including Remax.

Ashdown said: “It was the best start to a year I can remember. Until recently there were only a handful of significant industry names not using the Citylets network and we’re delighted they are now on board.

“We believe that we can benefit any letting agent in the country through our extended network which uniquely includes s1homes and findaproperty as partners.”

Citylets is also a respected market commentator publishing reports on a quarterly basis – the only independent, large scale detailed analysis for the Scottish rental property market. The next report for the last quarter of 2007 is due at the end of January and is expected to confirm an increase in tenant demand.

Thomas said: “We are delighted that the Citylets report is being well received.

We were determined to ensure its integrity and accuracy through using independent consultants. The public are wholly fed up with reports from partisan organizations talking the market up in their direction of interest.”

Citylets, which Thomas set up from his flat in 1999, has a long history of identifying valuable partners for the network, most noticeably signing up with major Scottish s1 brand in 2001.

A number of other January successes have ensured a bumper start to 2008 for Citylets, including signing an exclusive deal with leading Polish web portal Szkocja.net. It means most properties listed on Citylets are translated within

24 hours and posted onto Szkocja.net.

Ashdown also confirmed that its proprietary site www.citylets.co.uk enjoyed record visits in 2007, well into seven figures, ensuring that as the controller of a wide property listing network its own site continued to lead by example.

ENDS

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