According to Knight Frank, footballers are struggling to find suitable properties to let as the new season starts.
Weaker demand from students means it has been a more subdued summer than normal in the lettings market and uncertainty around the start of the academic year disrupted seasonal patterns of activity and put downwards pressure on rents.
The start of the football season this month has highlighted something different: a supply shortage of higher-value rental properties, particularly in leafier parts of the UK.
More owners are capitalising on the fact demand is surging for outdoor space and have decided to sell rather than let. This trend has been more marked in higher-value markets, where buyers and sellers can often act more quickly.
“Footballers typically prefer to rent, particularly at the start of their contract,” said Alex McLean, head of the sports team at Knight Frank’s relocation services business. “The problem this season is that they can’t find anything. It’s particularly true in the A3 corridor out through south-west London so a lot of players are ending up in hotels.”
Salaries have risen in recent years as football has become more profitable, says McLean, which means accommodation budgets can often exceed £15,000 per month in the Premiership.
In addition to footballers, demand in this price bracket comes from individuals working in sectors including finance, tech and oil and will typically include families relocating from overseas for a fixed period.
The number of valuation appraisals for lettings properties between April and August increased by 28% between 2019 and 2020 across London and the Home Counties. However, for properties valued at more than £15,000 per month, the figure fell 13%.
Meanwhile, in south-west London and areas including Ascot and Cobham, there was a 20% decline over the same period as owners capitalised on resurgent demand for outdoor space. Above £15,000 per month in the same area, the decline was 55%.
In the sales market, the opposite is true. In the three months to August, the number of instructions to sell properties valued at more than £5 million outside of central London doubled.
“The supply of lettings stock in the high-value country market typically comes from owners who are unable to achieve the price they want in the sales market, but that is not happening at the moment,” said Neil Cunningham, head of lettings for Knight Frank in south-west London and the Home Counties.
“On top of that, tax changes in recent years mean that there aren’t landlords coming in to replace them,”
“As a result of this rarity value, there has actually been upwards pressure on rents at the higher-value end of the market.”
While average rental values in prime outer London fell by 1% in the three months to August, there was a rise of 0.6% for properties valued at £2,000-plus per week, the only price bracket to experience an increase.