According to recent studies, the private rental sector (PRS) in the UK is not only healthy but steadily, inexorably growing. This is not only due to the rise of what is colloquially known as ‘generation rent’, meaning young people who are struggling to get onto the ladder of property ownership choosing (or are forced) to rent. In almost every age group, the percentage of people living in private rented accommodation is on the increase. As inventory providers; how does this help you identify your target client and how well do you know your property report market?
The private rental sector accounts for over 20% of all households with the largest share of private renters being between 25 to 34 year olds (Generation Z), with a total of more than 1.4 million private renters being in this age range.
Close behind are well over 1 million renters in the over-50s (Baby Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964) bracket now renting. This is compared with barely two-thirds of that number in 2010.
With an estimated 3.87 million people aged between 50 and 54 living in England, they are therefore likely to swell the numbers of 50+ renting in the PRS as more opt for the ease of renting and lower outgoings by moving into smaller and more practical accommodation.
A good point to make is that there is very little sign of this sector moving into reverse or even levelling off in the foreseeable future. It is the second biggest form of housing tenure in the UK and that makes it an extremely worthwhile and viable market in which to establish a presence.
The purpose of a property report is to protect
As an inventory clerk; you provide a property report service that is (often) too easily overlooked by the outsider. However, landlords and letting agents alike are well aware of the vital work you and the thousands of unsung foot soldiers perform. Any property management system relies massively on the services of skilled, experienced, professional inventory clerks because the art of property inspection lies at the heart of protecting a landlord’s investment, enforcing the provisions of a tenancy and preserving a positive relationship between landlord and tenant. Inventory reports and property management oils the wheels of the entire machine.
If you run a business providing inventory and property inspections for landlords and letting agents, or you are considering a move into this area, then the imperatives of any business apply equally to you. To get the most out of your skills and time you really do need to understand the property market. It is easy to research broad statistics like those cited above: it’s a flourishing market full of opportunities. But you need to look more deeply into the requirements and expectations of your potential clients as well as their geographic location and distribution.
Where in the country are the greatest opportunities for providing property reports?
Currently; the South-East has the highest concentration of private rented accommodation, particularly in London and its outer boroughs, but also in most of the larger commuter towns such as Guildford, Maidstone, Reading and Watford. The further west or north you travel, the situation changes but you’ll find that in every one of the major conurbations including Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, the PRS shares similar buoyancy to the Capital.
This is hardly surprising because the market will naturally crystallise around areas with the highest density of housing. Creating opportunity and carving out a geographical niche in one of these areas is the best way to position yourself physically in the property reporting market.
However, when you’re researching territories, you need to teach yourself about any property market conditions that are specific to that area, including but not limited to demographics. Where there is a large population of elderly homeowners, for example, it may not be the best choice for you whereas as in a university town, the constant throughput of students would be perfect albeit busy in tranches such as end and start of the academic year (July to late September).
Canterbury, for example, has a population of about 170,000, but nearly a quarter of that is represented by students. Cambridge is home to 130,000 people, of whom 25,000 are students so the potential to canner the property report market is high.
What do clients look for in a property report service?
The PRS contains businesses that range from landlords with one property to institutional landlords representing pension funds who have recognised the potential returns in this particular sector and have either built or purchased multiple properties across the country creating a wide ranging portfolio or stock.
Getting a foot in that particular door could prove difficult since they will have likely appointed large lettings agencies with their own inventory services. Smaller enterprises may be a better fit and worth pursuing – landlords with one, two or a handful of properties – when you are just starting out so that you are not overwhelmed with work or under-deliver.
Although many landlords may already be using the inventory services of a lettings agent, they are likely to be receptive to the idea of shopping around, especially if you can convince them of the benefits of using a specialist who focuses purely on inspection without the dozens of distractions involved in day to day management of property management.
That means you need to work out how to market yourself and present your service as both excellent and good value.
Give yourself the edge
Every inventory clerk can make claims about their impeccable skills and thorough, methodical approach to reporting. But bringing something tangible to the table is always persuasive. At Inventory Base, we specialise in the development of property management software, which includes everything an inventory clerk could need to carry out the most precise inspections, compile clear, comprehensive yet concise reports, easily share those reports with the client, and store data for monitoring, analysis and future comparison.
Using a property inspection app can give you a professional edge which will help you attract and retain clients. With the average tenancy lasting about two years, each one could be the source of five separate inspections, a check-in, a check-out and three six-monthly interim inspections.
One of the keys to success as an inventory clerk is building a regular client base, because then it becomes easy to quantify your base income through a simple calculation of clients multiplied by properties multiplied by inspections per year. Inventory Base has all the digital tools to help you put the most into your inventory business and get the most out of it.
Once you’ve had a careful look at the market and identified how you can tap into its potential, why not take the opportunity to put some state-of-the-art digital resources into making your business the service of choice in your area? Inventory property management is a much needed service and is a set of skills for which demand is set to grow.
At Inventory Base we can help you grow with it with free trial of our software, bespoke templates and training and support via Inventory Base Academy.
Want to know more? Contact us for more details and start your reporting journey.