The Property Redress Scheme member survey was designed to find out how the private rented sector is changing for Property Redress Scheme members.
While the private rented sector was one of the few industries to stay open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it still felt the effects of short-term legislation changes, such as the eviction ban, and changes to working patterns, including remote working.
It is generally agreed that the post-pandemic world will have a ‘new-normal’ and this survey sought to find out how this will affect the private rented sector and agents.
The Property Redress Scheme member survey was open from 22 March to 5 April 2021 and was sent to 12,321 Property Redress Scheme members. 506 people responded to the survey and a total of 70% (354) of respondents completed all the questions in the survey.
Whilst the survey was only sent to current Property Redress Scheme members, there was always a chance that non-members would find the survey. Of the 506 respondents, 490 (96.84%) said they were Property Redress Scheme members, 11 (2.17%) said they were members of The Property Ombudsman and five (0.99%) said they did not belong to either.
The respondents mainly consisted of Owner/Directors, 324 (67.59%), but respondents came from a variety of job roles including: Head of Marketing, Credit Controller, Office Manager, PA to Director, Landlord, Compliance Officer.
Most respondents, 284 (61.74%), said ‘single branch’ most accurately describes their agency. 156 (33.91%) said they were ‘online only’ and only 20 (4.35%) said they were ‘multi branch’. Respondents who said they were ‘multi branch’ ranged in size with the largest saying they had 18 branches, but most had under five.
Most respondents, 318 (69.18%), said they do not have a High Street branch/office, while 142 (30.87%) said they do.
The results from the survey suggest that most respondents are taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach to working from home with most saying that all employees are working from home, 264 (57.39%), and 106 (23.04%) saying all employees are working from the office. Only 90 (19.57%) said employees are doing a mixture of both. Most respondents, 355 (77.17%), said they do not see this changing in the next year.
Nearly two thirds of respondents, 297 (64.57%) felt there was still a future for the traditional High Street branch. The general feeling among respondents was that clients prefer face to face contact.
Only 20 (4.61%) respondents said they conduct only virtual viewings. Most respondents, 266 (61.29%) said they do a mixture of both and 148 (34.10%) said they only do physical viewings.
Over the last 12 months, more than half (55.07%) of respondents said they have rented a property using only virtual viewings. Most of these respondents (78.66%) said they have let 0-10 properties, but a minority (6.69%) said they had let 50+ properties using only virtual viewings.
Most respondents (40.78%) were still using only physical signatures with respondents using only electronic signature technology in the minority (27.88%). 31.34% of respondents said they were using both.
Almost three quarters of respondents (74.65%) said they would not be adopting any new technology in the next 12 months. Of those who said they would be adopting new technology (25.35%) the majority said they would start using electronic signatures, virtual viewings, CRMs and property management software.
State of the industry
Only 8.40% of respondents said they anticipate redundancies when the Government support schemes stop. Most respondents (89.08%) also said they do not anticipate their agency will re-skill or re-deploy employees.
When responding to what the three biggest challenges over the last 12 months have been, the most common responses included: winning instructions, government legislation, retaining landlords, rent arrears, landlords selling, cash flow, compliance, the market, evictions, staff, finding new business.
What will be your biggest challenges over the next 12 months?
The most common responses from respondents when asked what their three biggest learnings were, included: working remotely, technology, adapting, online, digital, virtual viewings, flexible, social media.
What have been your biggest learnings over the last 12 months?
Respondents could not seem to agree about how the market would be affected short term with some saying it will stagnate, while others say there will be increased demand and others less demand. Some say prices will increase, while others say they will drop or stay the same. Some say there will be fewer people moving, others say there will be more people moving.
However, there was much more agreement when it came to the medium term affects with most respondents saying there would be a lack of stock, landlords would be looking to sell, and rents will reduce. They appear to agree this will be because of the eviction ban.
Respondents felt the long-term effect on the market would be that prices will go up and demand will increase.
Over half (58.26%) of respondents said their agency has stayed the same over the last 12 months, 23.25% said it has grown and 18.49% said it had declined. However, most respondents felt positive about the next 12 months with 51.82% saying their agency would grow and only 10.92% saying their business would decline.