It’s often said that property is one of the best ways to invest money. Buy land, they aren’t making it anymore. The evidence certainly suggests as much with the average UK property price increasing by over 235% between 1995 and 2019. It’s tempting to want a slice of the pie but how is modern technology changing the industry?
More and more people are turning towards the property sector for a potential career path and the options are broad. There are jobs like surveying and planning which – although are hardly new – have become more popular in recent years. But of course, the title which immediately springs to mind is becoming a landlord.
This certainly makes a lot of sense for individuals who have some spare cash to invest and are looking to the property industry as a side-investment. These people basically have two options to choose from – becoming a private landlord or going through a letting agency.
Of course, this industry has not been immune to huge technological changes of the last few years. Digital technology has made it so much easier for people to view the potential properties to rent or buy. Sites like Purple Bricks and Rightmove are global names that help people navigate the process – particularly in the rental market. People are searching for properties in completely new ways so it’s about so much more than picking an estate agent with the most colourful advertising sign.
As a result, it will be tempting to go down the route of becoming a private landlord. You’ll have more control over the property and can stand to profit from a rental market which has doubled in size in the last 20 years. Historically, letting agents will take a cut off the top, leaving the property owner with less money in their pockets.
But things are changing. The Tenant Fees Act of 2019 changed the way letting agencies work. In England, the act outlined plans to ban letting fees paid by tenants in the private rented sector as well as capping tenancy deposits. Things go further in Wales. Letting agents and landlords can now only charge fees relating to rent, security deposits, holding deposits, or breach of contract.
It may be easy to assume that these legal and technical changes will lead to an online-only property market in years to come. However, that may not be the case.
“Gone are the days where people would scour high street letting agency/estate agent windows in search of their perfect home, but this doesn’t necessarily mean local firms have to suffer,” said Robert Macfarlane, a Director at MD Properties.
“People still value a friendly face and a reliable brand they can trust. By utilising online services like Rightmove in combination with having a physical premises people can visit, I foresee brick and mortar letting agencies being a mainstay in the rentals market for a long time to come.”
It’s still a good time to invest in the property industry. The internet is making it easier than ever for people to navigate an ever-expanding rental market. It may be easy to think that the market will be online-only in the years to come – especially with the changes to the law. However, it seems likelier that the future will be a combination of both. Don’t be scared of allowing a letting agency to manage your portfolio.