Rents for town centre flats in Reading have risen by around 39 per cent in two years.

Steve Woodford, managing director of Haslams Estate Agents, told more than 100 guests at the latest meeting of Reading Real Estate Network, that demand for rental property is such that there are now only around 35 properties on Haslams’ books at any one time – down from around 100 to 120 previously.

Discussing the average rents, he told the April 20 meeting at R+: “In April 2021, it was around £1,000. It peaked in February 2023 at just under £1,400, so a 39 per cent increase in less than two years. It’s quite staggering and I’m not sure it’s sustainable. It cannot keep going at that pace.

“Why has rent changed? There’s less supply, investment properties are not as attractive for most landlords and it’s the simple economics of supply and demand.”

Government intervention, he said, has made the market less attractive for investors.

He went on: “For every property we go live with we’ve got 20 or 30 people that want it. We’ve only got an average stock at any one time of 35. That used to be as high as 100-120 properties.

“So if someone came into our office they would have plenty to choose from. We are still letting 70-80 properties a month. The churn is just really quick and tenants are staying longer.

“Will it continue upwards? Overall, I think, yes. I’m not so sure the rents will but I think prices will.”

Out of a pipeline of almost 7,000 flats coming to Reading, around half are proposed to be Build-to-Rent but Mr Woodford suggested that proportions could eventually be much  higher.

“There’s over 3,500 (Build-to-Rent) units still to come and I actually think that number could be dramatically higher than that. It could be as high as 6,000 or 7,000 if a lot of these schemes end up going the route we think they will.”

Image: Member of the RREN team with speaker Steve Woodford. L-r: Marcus Francis from Field Seymour Parkes, Tom Fletcher from Hatch Real Estate, Steve Woodford from Haslams Estate Agents, Mike Feasey from Secure Trust Bank and Kim Cohen from Barton Willmore (now Stantec). Picture was taken from one of the roof terraces at R+.

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