Is the high street dead? Surely not.

PUBLISHED: 16:06 10 October 2018

Pic: www.gettyimages.co.uk

Pic: www.gettyimages.co.uk

Is the high street dead? Mike White, from Martin & Co, discusses the future of the high street for letting agents.

Mike White, lettings agent at Martin & Co. Pic: www.edp24.co.ukMike White, lettings agent at Martin & Co. Pic: www.edp24.co.uk

Confusing isn’t it? Everyday, we hear new stories of doom and gloom in all sectors of the economy and yet look around in Norwich. Lots of cranes on the skyline which is always an indicator of economic confidence, new shops and restaurants opening regularly, crowds of people wandering up and down Gentleman’s Walk. It’s the same in the world of landlords and lettings – loads of doom and gloom in the national press and on the airwaves; stories abound about the number of landlords selling up, how stretched financially agents are becoming and how online only agents are killing off those with high street premises. And, yet, here again what we’re seeing in practice in this part of the world doesn’t necessarily support this.

However, there is no doubt with the tenant fee ban looming, we are already seeing a consolidation within the lettings industry and this is only likely to accelerate the nearer we get to the ban.

The question is, is such consolidation combined with the rise of online only agents going to be good or bad for the consumer? Well, for sure, life moves on and the way business is conducted across all sectors changes over time. Just cast your mind back to, say, 1993 and look how much has changed in that short 25 year time-frame. Who would have thought then that one fifth of all adults would now be living in rented accommodation or that the average middle income, middle aged person would have the wherewithal to be their landlord! But here we are, a whole industry has been spawned that is now as much part of the social fabric as having a cup of tea. So much so, that populist political parties of all colours are now taking such a great interest in it. Effectively, the manipulation of the industry by the government – tax changes, fee bans, incentives for corporate landlords et al, is a form of social engineering and we would all be right to be wary of the longer term effects that might have.

But what is the impact of online only agents going to be on the consumer? Personally, I think it’s a complete myth that online agency is better for landlords, there again, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Nonetheless, for all the hubris and hyperbole we see across the national media about how wonderful they are, the fact is online only agents for all the money they have collectively thrown at the collective enterprise, still after all this time, only have a market share of around 5 per cent. Let’s not forget, in reality, an agent who has a website and uses the property portals to advertise its properties, is effectively an online agent anyway – so that’s about 98 per cent then! As far as I can see, the so-called online only agent is useful for a DIY landlord who fundamentally doesn’t like using agents but wants their property to be listed on the likes of Rightmove.

The good thing about corporates growing larger is they will need (and want) to retain their high street presence and just as new shops and restaurants replace closed ones, so are new agents springing up. For landlords who are trusting their most valuable asset, other than their own home, to an agent to look after, there is something very reassuring about knowing that your agent has a real local office, in a real place with real people in it. Long live the High Street!

For a chat with a real independent lettings specialist, give me a call at Martin & Co Norwich on 01603 766860 or pop into a real office at 1 Charing Cross to meet our real people!

Martin & Co has sponsored this column.

Latest Property Articles

More than 400 new homes are to be built in Norfolk over the next three years, as County Hall begins building and selling houses for the first time to raise millions of pounds.

The £45m revamp of two huge towers in the heart of Norwich into homes for 700 students is on track to be completed by September next year.

Time is running out for people to have their say on where thousands of new homes could be built in and around Norwich over the next two decades.

Plans have been lodged to create a seven-bed student shared house in Norwich.

Council bosses looking to build houses and, potentially, a swimming pool in Norwich are facing a race to get the site decontaminated or they could have to pay almost £1m back to the government.

A Norfolk group chief executive has criticised ‘ridiculous’ lending criteria after he was forced to pull out of buying a city centre penthouse because he could not get a mortgage.

Reports in the national press have highlighted a slow-down in the housing market during these uncertain times. However, demand for new homes in East Anglia remains strong. Edward Parker, from Bennett Homes, discusses.

If you are thinking about selling your home in the New Year, you may want to make sure you have the right paperwork, records and certificates in place in order to make the process smoother. Being prepared for any potential enquiries will help to avoid delays along the way. Sharron Tennant, from Spire solicitors, discusses.

Looming on the horizon are some most unwelcome changes in the way that UK taxpayers will have to report and pay for capital gains tax (CGT) on residential properties in the future. Jon Hook, managing director at Norwich Accountancy Services, discusses.

A team of volunteers is sought to help celebrate the history of Anglia Square, after a community project was awarded a National Lottery grant of more than £50,000.

Since its Christmas – well nearly – and we haven’t had much cheer this year what with Brexit and all, here for your mild amusement is a lettings version of the 12 Days of Christmas, says Mike White from Martin & Co lettings in Norwich.

William H Brown held its last auction of the year yesterday at the Barnham Broom hotel. Managing director and auctioneer, Simon Arnes, reports on the firm’s sale.

The controversial plans to develop Norwich’s Anglia Square have been given the go-ahead and here’s a first look at what new homes in the development could look like.

The humble bungalow was once considered the house type that style forgot. But not any more. And with more people living longer and less bungalows being built, single storey dwellings have never been more popular. Whatever would Granny say?

The developer behind the £271m Anglia Square revamp has likened the scheme to Marmite - conceding that some people will hate it.

The controversial £271m redevelopment of Norwich’s Anglia Square has been approved by city councillors.

It would be an “abomination” if the £271m Anglia Square revamp is given the go-ahead, the Lord Mayor of Norwich has said, as councillors get ready to make a decision on the controversial scheme.

A family that had threatened to stage a protest at a Norfolk housing development over fears they could be homeless at Christmas have finally been promised the keys to their new home.

A decision on whether to grant permission for one of the most contentious and biggest planning applications Norwich has seen for years will be made today.

The controversial revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square has the potential to create more than 500 new jobs, while people living in the new homes could spend up to £40m a year, council officers have said.

Designer Wayne Hemingway has joined the debate over the £271m plans for Anglia Square, urging city councillors to reject the proposals.

An estate agent who had to pull out of a city centre office said she has enjoyed her ‘best year ever’ at premises in the suburbs - as the debate continues over whether businesses are being driven out of Norwich.

A call for the government to make the final decision if councillors grant permission for the £271m Anglia Square revamp has been backed by civic watchdog the Norwich Society.

A fresh bid has been lodged over the future use of Norwich’s Grade II-listed Crystal House - and to build nine homes behind the back of the historic building.

Norwich is in danger of losing business investment because of a shortage of good quality commercial premises and an increasing number of road closures.

In today’s fast paced and technology driven society, it is essential to market your property in the most effective way, with the widest exposure. Sheron Harley, managing director of the Property Shop, discusses.

Developers behind plans for Norwich’s Anglia Square are hoping to be excused from paying almost £9m, if their proposals get the go-ahead.

Are you looking to sell a property quickly? Auction House, with four sale rooms in East Anglia, has the answer.

Hardwick House, one of the most impressive buildings in Norwich which is currently empty and boarded up, could become a pub as it goes up for rental after its £1.6 million sale falls through.

The controversial £271m proposal to revamp Norwich’s Anglia Square has been recommended for approval.

A controversial move to excuse some developers in Norwich from paying a levy of thousands of pounds is crucial if sites are not to stand derelict, council leaders have insisted.

More than £1m is to be spent to turn a block of offices into seven council homes.

‘Brexit is Brexit and people still want to move’ - that was the message from estate agents working in Norfolk and Suffolk who declare 2018 has been a better year for sales than 2017 despite new gloomy figures showing a 12 per cent fall in transactions.

He spent last winter homeless and on the streets but this Christmas a Norwich man will have a roof over his head after he has been helped by a charity.

Despite house prices rising, the number of properties sold has fallen; down by 12 per cent in Norfolk and 8 per cent in Suffolk compared with the same period last year, new figures reveal.

Important news for future house hunters contained in October’s budget was that the government’s Help to Buy scheme is to be extended – but only until 2023.

If you’re thinking about selling part of your garden land for development, there are several things to consider. Carolyn Bunn, from Spire Solicitors, discusses.

It is one of the most contentious and biggest planning applications Norwich has seen for years - the revamp of Anglia Square - and a decision is just weeks away. How did we get to this point? And what is being planned? Dan Grimmer reports.

A Norfolk couple who are house builders have won a national award at a ceremony likened to the ‘Oscars of the construction industry.’

It is a derelict, fire-hit site that has been sitting empty for a decade in Thorpe St Andrew.

Plans have been submitted to Norwich City Council to create a 10 bedroom house.

From bringing ‘ghost’ ponds back to life, to environmentally switched-on schoolchildren and energy-efficient social housing - projects in Norfolk have been celebrated with awards.

What’s the importance to a firm of feedback? Ben Rivett, of Savills’ Norwich residential team, discusses.

Situated at the end of a no-through road, you would never have reason to find this magnificent house, originally the home of an esteemed Norwich coroner. And yes, it really is on a hill! Property editor Caroline Culot had the joy of visiting Hill House in Bramerton, for sale for £2.5million.

Meet the Editor

Caroline Culot


I am the property editor in charge of delivering some exciting and informative content within Archant’s varied titles. We have 16-17 pages of stories, features and columns in the EDP Property supplement out every Friday free in your EDP so please don’t miss it.