Threats and Mercies

 Threats and Mercies are not normally part of the same sentence.

  • The letting profession is enjoying the longevity of a lifetime with low mortgage interest rates.   
  • Having lived through Black Wednesday and endured 15% interest rates the current lows are a mercy. 
  • It might appear ungenerous to describe the phenomenon of low interest rates as merely a mercy. 
  • The threat, on the other hand,  is new but anticipated for years, but it seemed that all the while the sun shone the rain would never fall. 
  • What happened to wake us up to reality.   A 300% increase in student loan fees resulted in a circa 6% fall in Canterbury student applicants.
  • Doesn't sound significant but think on.  The Telegraph reports that with only a week to the start of term a third of universities still had a significant number of unallocated places.
  • Meanwhile, closer to home, Christchurch University has turned a quarter of St Georges Place into a veritable student accommodation block.   This has displaced first year students from accommodation which was formerly provided by private landlords mopping up any available rooms created by drop outs.  Landlords are subsequently finding it tougher to let their houses. This September has seen a plethora of rented properties not yet rented.   Previous years have seen such trends but somehow the current trend threatens to be the start of a continuing decline.
  • The winners are students who can pick and choose the biggest rooms instead of settling for what is left – box rooms are taking the biggest hit. 
  • Wind the clock back a year when students were unable even to secure bed and breakfast accommodation in Canterbury.   
  • What else is different?   Every year sees a number of students take a gap year.   Last year was the last year prior to the fees increase.   Logically taking a gap year meant paying higher fees making this imprudent.   No UK students with basic-level mathematics took a gap year in 2011 - this would have to wait until after their degree.   Meanwhile, 2012 sees no such "incentive".   
  • Moreover, there is less incentive to go to university at all!   
  • Record numbers of graduates are subsequently following careers in non-graduate jobs.
  • Those who attend university will statistically enjoy a better quality life than non-graduates but the gap appears to be narrowing.   
  • Added to this, the government is determined to reduce immigration via student status subterfusion.   
  • One London college was closed down with others suffering restrictions.
  • Interest rates will one day rise; what state will the economy be in at that point, what impact will all this have on the future of lettings in Canterbury?