We’ve all been there. We’ve answered all the questions, ticked the relevant boxes and racked our brains to work out exactly how much we can afford to spend on rent each month, while still being able to afford a nice holiday and of course, the mandatory coffee for our morning commute.
Then we relax. All the hard work has been done! We put the kettle on and scan the results. Over 100 properties ‘match’ our requirements. What? How?! Who has the patience to scroll down past number 10? Surely the point of spending all that time at the beginning was to cut out the noise and present me with a shortlist of places that I’d fall in love with.
Renting in London can be great fun – the city itself has so much to do and so many neighbourhoods to explore, not to mention the awesome people who live here, themselves coming from just about every other country in the world. Did I mention the nightlife, the museums, the food markets… But finding a place that you like, and that you can afford to rent isn’t easy and the way you’re expected to find a place to live hasn’t changed much in the last decade.
Property listing sites are just that – long lists of properties that you’ve got to wade through to find anything worth going to see. The problem for us is that the search results are so broad – and have so many errors in them – that most of the hard work is still up to us, and people simply are not prepared to do it. Recent studies have indicated that millennials (who make up the highest % of renters in the city) prioritise our time over our finances, and indeed 56% of us pay for up to 10 services a month, all designed to offer convenience (think Uber, Deliveroo etc). Even though the average London renters’ salary is £34,000 with around half of each paycheck spent on rent, we would rather pay a small fee to use these apps than to spend our time walking to pick up our take-away or getting the bus instead of being picked up from our front door. 15% of us even pay for someone to manage our finances!
Being tech savvy, and quite often glued to smartphones, we want quick, smart solutions to satisfy our needs. 45% of us spend over 4 hours a day on our mobiles, flitting from app to app, so when presented with property search results of over 100 places, we will often only look at the first page of results before deciding that it’s taking too long, or another Instagram notification pops up and steals away our attention.
Ems data has shown us that the average time spent on a results page is 2 minutes, with 40% of users only viewing the top 5 properties and only 21% looking through the top 20, confirming the research above.
Whereas once 60% of Londoners owned their home back in 2000, this has dropped significantly and PwC now estimate that only 40% will own their home in 2025, leaving the number who will need to rent ever increasing. Due to many different factors, including the cost of living in the city and tighter regulations around mortgage lending, 33% of Londoners will now rent into retirement! It seems there is no escape from renting for plenty of us, but unfortunately the way in which we have to find properties isn’t working in our favour, making a difficult (second) job even harder.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it’s highly probable that many of us are missing out on the perfect new home because of how laboured the process currently is. What we all really want is for someone to read our minds, wave their magic wand and voila – the dream home is mine. The reality is that what should be an exciting new lifestyle that comes along with a house move is more often thought of as a really time consuming chore, and search results into the triple digits really don’t help. I better get the kettle back on, it’s going to be a long night of scrolling.