Rental market stays slim

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The Independent Online
A shortage of good quality property to rent is a complaint that still rumbles on. There may be new investors and a greater professionalism in the sector but good selling prices also beckon. The calmer mood in the market suggests to those owners who have been waiting for the right time to sell, that the green light is not going to get much greener.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors there are also those who are put off by the cost of complying with furniture safety regulations. And from the tenants' point of view when they do finally get themselves installed they would like to be able to take a lease that is longer than the usual six months. A third of surveyors say that there is a demand for a new Assured Longhold Tenancy.

When an historic house in Hampstead village in London comes on to the rental market the chances of beating the corporate competition are slim. The agents Behr & Butchoff found themselves in the middle of a bidding battle for an 18th century listed house. The two rivals - a bank and an oil company - were bringing top executives and their families over from the US. The bank wound up the winner and is paying pounds 4,000 a week in rent, making it the most expensive let in Hampstead. The oil company has to do some explaining to its president and his family.

Wates Built Homes are now giving buyers of detached houses a chance to get in on the ground floor when it comes to layout and design. They will be able to say what they want in structural layout, interior design, the garden and the method of purchase. Using the Imprint service, a buyer can ask for a major alteration such as a wall or something as small as a light fitting to be moved. Developers have learned that it pays to have the purchaser's input early on. Wates will juggle colours on room-by-room drawing boards and in the garden, herbacious beds and smart patios can be ditched in favour of children's play areas if necessary.