2015 has been a fantastic year for EasyRoommate. Flat sharing is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to find their next home, and we don’t see that trend slowing down.
With 2015 coming to an end, we thought it would be a good idea to give you our analysis of the current housing market. Then we’ll shine the spotlight on you, our users, and then finally give you an insightful glimpse onto some of the exciting developments that might be around the corner for flat sharers in the UK! If you’re lucky, we might also reveal some of the new features coming to EasyRoommate.
Housing: It’s a Question of Supply and Demand
In London right now, the ratio of available properties compared with the number of people on the hunt for somewhere to live is a staggering 1:9. Yes, for every one available home, there are 9 people looking to occupy it.
This sort of dire housing shortage has impacted the London housing market in a number of ways.
- The average cost of buying a home in the capital has reached an eye-watering £600,000.
- The demand for rental property has gone through the roof as young professionals realise they are unable to afford the costs of home ownership.
- The cumulative results of the previous points have created a new generation of money-savvy flat sharers – a community of people we’re busy helping.
The Sharing Generation
Since 1999 when we set up EasyRoommate, the types of people that we’ve helped to find rooms to rent has changed dramatically.
Ten years ago, our audience was almost exclusively students looking to flat share. Now, students are a minority audience. Instead, 64% of our flat sharers are young-professionals at an average age of 27.5. People in their 30s and 40s are also now starting to become interested in buddying up to find a flat.
So what’s changed? Well, the housing market factors mentioned above have certainly played their part. But other factors might include a naturally aging UK population, along with the fact that many employers are now happy to move entire swathes of their exec teams from one head office to another.
When this happens, large numbers of young professionals find themselves in a position where they need to uproot at a moment’s notice and find somewhere new to live in an unfamiliar city – perhaps not even one in their home country. In addition, they might only be contracted to work in that office for 2 or 3 months! This makes finding a privately rented flat a struggle. In the UK, the minimum contract length for a tenancy is generally 12 months (with a break clause part-way through).
This is the sharing generation. They need flexible accommodation wherever they are in the world, they need it to be affordable, and they need it at a moment’s notice.
Here to Help with Rooms to Rent
Our mission at EasyRoommate is to help people in this situation. So how are we doing that? Well, 2015 has been about three things:
- Making your search easier: we’ve locked our developers in a room with the aim to improve search on the site. It should be easier than ever to find a room with EasyRoommate, wherever you are in the world.
- Working on our mobile site: This year marked a tipping point for us. 2015 was the first year where over half of all traffic to EasyRoommate came from mobile (52%). With that in mind, we’re hard at work optimising our site for mobile to ensure you experience a flawless visit.
- Creating flat share availability by working with landlords: To ensure we meet the demand from those looking for rooms to rent, we’ve worked closer than ever with our existing landlords and agents to ensure they’re happy, and to attract new agents and landlords. As an example, if a landlord owns, say, ten properties, they used to have ten inboxes which could be difficult to manage; now they have one unified inbox.
With supply and demand being so key to the whole housing issue, we are ensuring there will never be a lack of high quality rooms for rent across the UK.
Looking ahead to 2016
2015 has been a strong year for EasyRoommate, but with the sharing generation growing in number and broadening in demographic, we predict even bigger things from 2016!
According to Robert Gardner, the Chief Economist at Nationwide “the number of available homes in the UK are reportedly at their lowest level since the late 1970s.”
In addition, while the Government is trying to implement strategies that will increase housing stock, like curbing the buy-to-let market, it is likely that stock availability for 2016 will be increasingly small.
For us, this means that we need to do everything to keep flat share supply growing by working with our partners. In addition, it also means working on new technologies to make searching for rooms to rent even easier. One way we’re doing that is by increasing the functionality of our map search function.
Another way we’re going to do it is by expanding our offering into the “mid-term” flatshare market.
Organisations like London’s incredible The Collective provide co-living space to hundreds of young-professionals. At EasyRoommate, we will partner with organisations like these to ensure high-quality, London-based living with everything included: bills, council tax, a cleaning service and more – all at a good price and with plenty of flexibility.
Ultimately, while homes to buy in 2016 look increasingly rare, it’s going to be a fantastic year for our flat sharers as we aim to improve our functionality and our offering.
Our community is the sharing generation, and we intend to make them feel at home in 2016.