More homes hit the market

There are big changes coming to our little borough in West London. In my last column, I singled out some of the big developments coming to Hammersmith – and I hope they make the area stronger and more popular than ever.

But in the background, small changes are also having a big impact. From April 1st, the council has made a change which is already affecting a lot of local homeowners: they will no longer exempt empty flats or houses from paying council tax.

This has started the phones ringing here at Horton and Garton as property owners are now faced with big bills if they cannot find anyone to rent their homes, and this also affects residents who are renovating their homes and have moved out. As a result, clients want high-calibre tenants – and fast!

This is great news for prospective tenants as there are now more homes on the market to choose from. It’s not just Hammersmith either, we’re part of a wider trend in West London where tenants are starting to call more of the shots in the search for a flat or house.

Recent research from Chesterton Humberts reports that there is a ‘shift in the balance of power’ as the increased supply of rental properties gives tenants ‘the upper hand’ in negotiations. The experts then go on to explain that ‘shrinking corporate relocation budgets’ and ‘squeezed household finances’ have driven tenants away from prime Central London locations in search for better value.

Hello Hammersmith!

In addition, the bearish report goes on to predict only modest rental growth of two per cent to four per cent in 2013. But while that is a conservative estimate for hot Central London addresses, it means that those customers looking for bigger properties and better deals will be coming to Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

Many landlords are now being more flexible when it comes to rent reviews with existing tenants, the study finds, thinking that it’s better to retain a good tenant who pays their rent and looks after the property than deal with the hassle and expense of ‘filling a void with a new and unknown tenant’. Again, it’s good to see some sense coming back into the market. Avoiding a void is the key to smart property management these days, to keep council tax bills down or to make every week count in the rental game.

However, those homeowners that don’t like the look of the rental market may also be deciding to sell which is also great news for anyone looking to snap up a property in lovely ‘Glamoursmith’ or Shepherds Bush – especially considering both markets are limited by the lack of supply. This may mean clients need to be a bit more realistic about prices, but with the right advice they can find a qualified buyer with their act together to help get the deal done fast- and when the council tax bills start to mount, speed is the key.

So if you are buying, selling or renting in W6 or W12, make sure to stop by our offices in King Street to experience a bit of the purple carpet treatment that won’t leave you in the red.