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Slow Down In Rental Market?

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I’m a renter who’s luckily landed himself a new job starting in the new year. This is not all that far from where I’m currently at, but I’m looking to move closer to my new workplace, as this will help me avoid the major traffic jams in between there and where I currently live. (That plus pressure from the Mrs, who’s fed up of the dinge-hole we’re currently in…)

I’ve been renting in this area for the last 5 years (not been interested in buying because of how dodgy the employment situation has been) and right now there seems to be a marked difference. (Not in price, though. That has hardly shifted. I was paying roughly £95 per week for a 1 bed flat in Jan 2001, and that’s still the going rate.)

5 years ago all I only had to phone round letting agencies, who were all too willing to put you on their mailing lists. I would receive them every week and there was usually plenty of choice. I noticed properties would remain on them week after week.

Now, the agencies refuse to do mailing lists. At any given time the choice is severely limited, probably about nothing to 2 new properties will appear on the market in any town within say, a 30-mile radius, and it promptly disappears (overpriced stuff excepted).

2-3, years ago a signing on fee was about £75-90.

Now it’s anything from £150-300.

(I mentioned how I noticed the difference to an agent at the last viewing I went to. He said “it’s because the properties are being taken up quicker”. But he’s certainly not going to say anything that would harm customer confidence, wouldn’t he?)

So, what does this really mean? Are more people renting, or are more people simply staying put?

Would this increase in agency signing on fee be because of a decrease in the properties they are turning around, so they can keep more money coming in?

Has anyone had / having similar experiences? What are your thoughts?

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