Yorkshire is a holiday let hotspot

The number of British holiday lets is rising and Yorkshire is a hotspot, according to Cottages.com. The company, which is based in Earby, near Skipton, is the largest managed holiday letting business in the UK and has seen the properties on its books grow by almost a quarter. It compared the period from January to June this year to the same period in 2018 and found a 23 per cent increase. The firm puts most of the surge down to second home owners who are looking to take advantage of the predicted growth in staycations in 2019 and 2020. Travel industry digital marketing specialist Sojern backs this up and says that internet searches and bookings for staycations are up by a third. It believes that Brexit uncertainty coupled with higher inflation and weaker earnings are fuelling the rise. Property investors are also playing a part as some are now are steering away from conventional rental properties to more tax-efficient holiday lets. The increase in holiday homes for rent has been seen across the UK, according to Cottages.com, but the leading destinations with the strongest growth are in Yorkshire, the South-West, East Anglia and the Lake District. Keswick in the northern part of the Lake District shows Britain’s largest growth in new rental properties. “We haven’t seen this surge in the number of new properties coming on-board before and a number of factors seem to have combined to boost the marketplace,” says Simon Altham, Chief Portfolio Officer for Cottages.com. “While it’s not as simple as saying this is all down to Brexit, it is clear from our clients’ feedback that they are looking to make the most of more people deciding to stay closer to home this year and beyond. “Brexit uncertainty combined with a slowing housing market means that second homeowners are clearly looking at new ways to maximise the value of their investment and domestic tourism is one part of the economy that is continuing to do well. “The rise can also be attributed to owners moving from buy-to-let to holiday lets, as a result of the recent regulation and taxation changes in the private rental sector. These have created a perfect storm for people looking for new income sources from property.” The Cottages.com statistics also highlight changes in the holiday letting market. There was a 12 per cent increase in “super-luxury” property in the first half of the year, reflected in the four per cent growth in customers renting high-end accommodation. While renting a holiday home for a week or two used to be the norm, demand for short breaks and last-minute getaways is now popular. Empty nesters now book an average of three short breaks a year. As a result, holiday dates have become more flexible to meet changing customer booking patterns. Simon Altham says it all adds up to good news for local economies. “Not only is this good news for our hosts, it is also good news for the wider economy as domestic tourism, and especially the holiday letting business, has a strong part to play in helping support our rural and coastal economies. “With more people encouraged to let their second homes, owners are directly contributing to the viability of the local communities, as we know visitors spend money in local attractions, pubs, restaurants and shops, thereby creating jobs and employment.” For those thinking of turning a second home into a holiday let, Shelley D’Arcy, vice president of property recruitment for cottages.com, has this advice: “People now want somewhere better than their own home and they will scour the reviews of individual properties to make sure they find it. “Hot tub is one of the buzzwords they look for and our figures show that if you have a hot tub you’ll get 31 per cent more bookings. Other buzzwords are ‘welcome pack’ and ‘freshly-baked cake’. “Traditionally, a welcome pack was tea, coffee, fresh milk and biscuits but guests now expect more. They want local produce. Fresh flowers are also a nice touch as is a bottle of prosecco and people appreciate high quality toiletries. It should go without saying that a holiday let should be spotless with good quality bedding.” Shelley adds that large, top quality holiday lets that can accommodate a family gathering or groups of friends are becoming much more popular. “We’ve got bookings for them right into 2020,” she says. The other best-seller at Cottages.com is property that is pet friendly. “If you accept dogs, make sure you have a secure garden, spare leads, a water bowl and put dog treats in the welcome pack you’ll get three extra weeks of bookings compared to non-pet friendly properties. That equates to 18 per cent more income,” says Shelley. “There are more dog owners now than ever before and paying for kennels is expensive.”

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