Clever Student Lets – which has now been simply rebranded to “Clever” – have long had a well-earned reputation as the go-to place for student accommodation, placing over 23,000 learners over the past 12 years.
But now the company has also set its sights on residential sales and lettings as, according to Halifax, the average sale price of a home in Plymouth during the past 12 months was a new record high of £278,123, which is 10.8% higher than the previous year, with property values increasing by 0.5% month-on-month.
This drove them to take on a new CEO last year – Derek Richardson – who brought a wealth of experience from his previous roles running large residential sales and lettings agencies across South Wales and the West.
Mr Richardson said: “I had no hesitation at all taking this role with Clever to reposition them in an incredibly buoyant market here in Plymouth. Even though official figures show a 10% rise in 2021, we think the true figure this year is actually closer to 12% – in the PL3 postcode alone, properties have increased by 15%.
“Plymouth and the surrounding areas saw one of the busiest markets in living memory in 2021 thanks to a range of factors such as the Stamp Duty holiday, people needing more room or a better environment to work from home, or just those people moving to this great city for a different way of life post-pandemic.
“This was also reflected in the lettings sector, where people were still seeing property as a good long-term investment. This was complemented by a strong demand from those wanting to rent,” he said.
Mr Richardson is an ARLA (Association of residential lettings agents) Propertymark qualified letting agent, which is the UK’s foremost professional and regulatory body for letting agents and the biggest and most influential body in the sector.
Members must attend to regular training from property experts to keep their knowledge up to date and its compulsory to complete Continual Professional Development (CPD). ARLA regulates its members’ activity and if a member is not meeting its Code of Conduct, then disciplinary action can be taken.
He added: “The ‘race for space’ that’s dominated the property market for the past 20 months will carry on throughout 2022.
“Kickstarted by the pandemic, it’s seen prospective buyers moving out of London and other cities to coastal spots such as Plymouth where they’ll get more for their money.
“A vivid example of the way house hunters’ priorities have changed is shown in the keywords they are using to search. According to Rightmove, ‘annexe’ is one of the most-searched terms – this was an almost non-existent search term back in 2018 and 2019 – with ‘garage’ being another, as buyers look for that extra space to transform into a home office, gym, or spare bedroom.
“Many economists and property experts work on the basis of an 18-year property cycle, which suggests that we are about to enter a period of sustained growth over the next 4-5 years.
“This theory coupled with strong economic conditions and restored confidence in the UK property market should encourage investment and underpin an active and stable property market for 2022,” he said.