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Property agents see Brexit as biggest challenge

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Pro-Brexit supporters rally outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on March 29, 2019 after MPs voted down the government’s Brexit deal for a third time. – British MPs on Friday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal for a third time, opening the way for a long delay to Brexit — or a potentially catastophic “no deal” withdrawal in two weeks. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

The biggest obstacle property agents in the UK currently face is the turbulent economic and political climate caused by the uncertainty and chaos surrounding Brexit, new research has found.

Some 64per cent of estate and letting agents see the uncertainty as the main challenge to the property market while 51per cent say they feel pressure to lower the fees they charge for their services.

The study by house buying firm Sellhousefast, also found that 49per cent of estate and letting agents believe there is presently a lack of housing stock to satisfy the growing demand from potential buyers/renters.

Given all the stages in the property purchasing process, from finding a solicitor to complete all the legal work to a qualified surveyor to conduct a valuation, 43per cent think the time taken from offer to completion is too long.

Contrastingly, only 21per cent of estate and letting agents are worried about the increased High Street competition posed from other rival agents.

Slightly above, 30per cent presently view the housing marketing as having an insufficient number of serious buyers/renters, according to propertywire.

The research also looked at which major changes in housing legislation estate and letting agents are most and least aware of and found that 72per cent were aware that a ban on tenant fees for granting, renewing or extending a tenancy is coming in England and Wales.

Some 64per cent are wary those properties deemed energy inefficient could face potentially heavy fines as punishment for not meeting set standards and 60per cent know they must now give any new tenants they manage/acquire on a letting basis a ‘how to rent’ guide.

Just half of estate and letting agents are conscious of the mortgage interest tax relief being phased out for some taxpayers and only 34per cent about the new minimum room size regulations implemented to prevent landlords from letting out rooms which are too small in proportion to the number of people staying/living in them.

Contrastingly, banning orders now being placed on a national database is the change in law that estate and letting agents are the least alert about at just 17per cent. Likewise, a small percentage of agents, 27per cent, acknowledge the tougher rules on mortgage financing coming into play for landlords with more than four properties.

“For many, estate and letting agents are a focal point of contact in their quest to the find the right property to buy or rent. Most times, their professional approach and know how ensures the purchasing or letting process is carefully and diligently handled,” said Robby Du Toit, managing director of Sellhousefast.

“Given the apparent benefits of using housing agents, this research highlights the biggest challenges they face from their own perspective. With the unpredictable economic and political landscape post-Brexit, perhaps unsurprisingly ranking as their top concern,” he pointed out in Propertywire.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is calling on the Government to introduce a new registration system for short term rents in the city.

Since 2015 the law has capped short term lets in London at a total of 90 nights per year in a bid to help protect long term tenancies in the private lettings sector.

But the Mayor says that it is almost impossible for councils to enforce and only Airbnb has implemented a voluntary cap.

In a letter to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire, co-signed by Airbnb and Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea councils, the Mayor outlined his support for short term lets, which offer additional accommodation for visitors to the capital and enable Londoners to meet new people and earn some extra money.

However, the letter, also signed by London Councils, the local government association for the capital, makes clear that the Mayor believes these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect long-term rented housing, and to ensure that neighbours of Londoners renting their properties short-term are not negatively affected by a high turnover of visitors.

London is one of the UK’s top destinations for guests travelling with Airbnb. Over the past year approximately 2.2 million guests have stayed at 75,700 listings in the capital, generating £1.3 billion from guests and hosts, and encouraging visitors to different corners of the city as well as the classic tourist areas.
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