What can letting agents learn from the stamp duty frenzy?

30 July 2021

The stamp duty holiday fuelled one of the best sales markets in over a decade, but the coming months and years look set to be dominated by steady growth in demand for lettings. The crucial question is whether the industry has learnt from the sales frenzy how to handle this rising tide of lettings demand.

The stamp duty holiday of the past 12 months fuelled one of the best market periods in over a decade for estate agents. However, as we look ahead, the coming months and years look set to be dominated by steady growth in demand for lettings. 

Tenant demand continues to outstrip supply. Most industry experts agree that the PRS market will continue to grow and, eventually, become the dominant stream of income for most agencies. In recent months, we’ve seen positive signs when it comes to investment of new rental stock, new and existing landlords are considering building their portfolios, the Build To Rent sector is increasing its investment, and even John Lewis wants to join the party.

The crucial question is whether the industry is ready to handle this rising tide of demand. If it wants to capitalise on this opportunity, then the following lessons of the last year must be learnt:

The true cost of time

Over the past 12 months (and its litany of challenges) many agents have struggled to manage their time. Handling the sudden surge in sales whilst also responding to the consistent appetite for lettings has been no mean feat. This has meant that some haven’t been able to maximise on every opportunity available to them, or maintain consistent levels of customer service.

Time is money in this business. And the lesson of this past year is that agents must build the ability to profitably scale and respond to demand into their business structures. Reviewing systems, tools and processes to ensure teams can step up to a future of heightened demand is key.

Investing in processes or software to support this used to be a nice to have, or an additional nod to growth. Now, however, agents need slicker systems to even stand still and keep up with existing demand.

The value of a multi-skilled workforce

Agents that had taken the time to invest, train and develop their staff were better prepared to withstand the demands of the past year. Individual team members who were able to stand on their own two feet and take ownership of their roles proved essential to many businesses. Likewise, teams where members had been trained to cover other roles or had a wider range of skills were able to react more effectively to the shifts in demand.

With staff on furlough, certain managers and business owners also found themselves rolling up their sleeves and getting back to the kind of frontline work many had long ago left behind. This will have given many a new found appreciation for the hard work delivered by their teams.Remembering these lessons and investing in the training and development of your teams is vital if you want to remain competitive.

Clients' needs have evolved

Like the wider world of work, the past year has shown that clients' needs can quickly evolve. From fully digitised services, to a different set of property requirements; what clients want never stays still.

Understanding the new normal and how the past year has shifted what clients expect of their agents will stand savvy companies in good stead for the next phase. Those who enabled and pushed through deals before the 30th June Stamp Duty deadline will know just how much personal time and attention clients need when the market really heats up.

Offering the option of completely digital end-to-end services, maintaining the human touch, anticipating shifting client needs, and reshaping business practices proactively rather than reactively (and reluctantly) will be the hallmarks of agencies which retain the loyalty of their clients.

This article was originally published on PropertyWire.

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