On Thursday 19th May I attended the Council of Letting Agents Conference in Glasgow and enjoyed a very full day listening to some of the most experienced speakers update the 250 plus delegates on the recent developments and trends in the Scottish private lettings sector.
A key speaker on the day was Amanda Wiewiorka, Chair of the CLA Policy Group and owner of Wardhaugh properties. After an explanation of the workings of the Policy Group, Amanda went on to explain why letting agents should diversify into sales and gave an interesting account of how she her made that transition in her own business. Her view is that it is a great opportunity and one sure way of confronting the threats facing letting agents. Amanda saw these threats as:
- Legislation and increased costs
- The continuing amalgamation of smaller agents into super agents
- The extra challenges for those who remain small and do not have the economies of scale
- The continuing trend of sales agents into lettings
- Local Housing Authorities setting up their own letting agencies
- Increase of online lettings portals
- Growth of self-management software for landlords
- Landlords leaving the sector due to other forms of investment looking more attractive and rewarding
We also heard from Thomas Ashdown from Citylets who gave an update on the Scottish lettings market and surprised everyone with statistics that showed that Edinburgh and Glasgow have shown the greatest average rental increase in the last 12 months with Aberdeen falling by 3% in the same period.
He felt that only corporate landlords will sustain the shrinking market in Scotland and named La Salle, Prudential and L&G as examples of such property developers and then expressed concern about the undersupply of property to rent in Scotland’s major cities.
Elspeth Boyle of LAS followed with an explanation of the proposed training that will be available to help letting agents meet the new standard of competence and Mark Reid joined her to explain the new CIH Level 3 Certificate in Letting and Managing Residential Property.
David Morrison from EQ Accountants then talked about the latest Taxation legislation that impacts on lettings and then Andrew Cowan from TC Young solicitors went through the changes that the new Housing Act will introduce over the coming years.
All in all a very informative day and a great networking opportunity, especially when visiting the various stands in the Exhibition Hall and mingling at refreshment breaks.