How can letting agents make the most of the student rental market in 2021?
31 March 2021 6627 Views
Targeting the specialist student rental market can be rewarding for letting agents and landlords if they take the right approach.
The current academic year, as well as large parts of the previous one, has been stop/start as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many students have been remote learning from home, while those who are staying in rental property near university will not have benefited from the full student experience.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in February this year, 51% of students were living with family - a fifth of whom would not be doing so if it was not for the pandemic.
Some 55% of students taking part in the government survey said they were not planning to travel or commute between their current address and their university over the next two months, while 77% had not attended any in-person teaching in the previous seven days.
However, as attentions turn to a fresh academic year and students continue their search for next year's accommodation over the coming weeks, it's a crucial time for agents to ensure they are providing the best possible offering to student tenants.
Due to the pandemic, thousands of students have had their university experience diluted, with this year's freshers getting a particularly raw deal. Therefore, when it comes to accommodation for the 2021/2022 academic year, having the perfect property will be hugely important.
Letting agencies providing the best service, properties and a hassle-free renting process for student tenants can reap the benefits of a market which will hopefully be more or less back to normal by the end of this year.
Should agents expect a buzzing student rental market this year?
The interrupted nature of the current and previous academic years means students will be hoping to get the absolute most out of 2021/2022.
When it comes to housing, the majority of students will be looking for properties they can share with friends which are close to amenities, well-furnished and provide favourable homeworking conditions.
Ahead of the current academic year, a record 40.5% of all 18-year-olds in the UK applied to go to university, with a total of 514,000 people applying for a place on an undergraduate course - up 1.6% on 2019/2020.
Meanwhile, in preparation for next year, figures quoted by the BBC show that applications for university places are 8% up on last year.
As a result of the pandemic, interrupted studies and optimism that things will soon return to something closer to normal, the buzz around the student rental market over the next few weeks could be higher than usual.
Agencies which are prepared to deal with higher demand from student renters and can provide a full housing package, could benefit from the opportunity to complete more deals and increase their lettings revenue.
Why student tenants need the best internet and TV packages
In years gone by, there has been an assumption that students are not as bothered as other tenants about the quality and features of their housing.
This is unlikely to be the case in 2021, however, particularly when it comes to technology such as internet and TV.
A study by Towergate Insurance found that large bedrooms were the most sought-after property feature for students, followed by fast, reliable internet - which for many renters was more important than having a living room.
Not only do student tenants need good broadband to complete assignments, it is highly likely to be at the centre of their everyday lives.
Last year, Ofcom revealed that 18-24-year-olds were averaging five hours and four minutes per day online - the longest of all age groups.
Meanwhile, whether it's music, TV or films, younger people are more likely to stream their media and for this, having the best broadband is imperative. In 2018, the BBC revealed that 16-24-year-olds spent more time watching Netflix in a week than all of its channels combined - a gap which is likely to have grown in the intervening period.
With this in mind, students will want access to the fastest, most reliable internet possible and affordable TV packages in their rental properties. Agents who can provide these packages with the least hassle and the option to get things up and running as quickly as possible can carve out a reputation as a go-to provider of student accommodation.
Can you provide students with flexibility?
Another major desire for student renters has always been flexibility. Move-in/out times are often staggered - some students will be in their accommodation for the duration of the contract, while others may come for the start of term and move out as soon as they've finished their exams.
Therefore, students will appreciate agencies which provide a flexible service catered to their needs and timings when it comes to signing contracts, organising move-ins, negotiating deposit deductions and so on.
On the matter of TV and internet, students will be looking for the best packages which are flexible on terms and can be installed as soon as possible.
By partnering with Virgin Media and referring home movers, agents can improve customer satisfaction and drive a new revenue stream with the opportunity to earn a fee when they take Virgin Media's TV, broadband, mobile or home phone services.
Virgin Media is a household brand, renowned for its premium products and ultrafast speeds. Its broadband services are available in 15.3 million homes across the UK and steadily growing, with 5G mobile connectivity available in 100 locations across the UK.
Agencies which partner with Virgin Media benefit from on-shore account management, as well as training and marketing support.
If you want to find out more about how you can generate additional revenue by referring Virgin Media’s services to property buyers and tenants, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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