What an err…interesting month it has been. For the first time in many years I have attended to numerous projects outside of the business…
I am not one built for leisure. While my teenage son embraces self-isolation by staying in bed playing games, my husband continues in his largely solitary literary pursuits and I go slowly mad for want of company, hugs and a business that throws challenges at me daily. Like many of you I spent March carefully watching the daily briefings and trying to navigate the shifting sands of HMRC as we all tried to keep up. April has settled into a more leisurely routine with morning yoga, feeding the sourdough starter, a shortened work day and then the precious outdoor time. I am blessed to have a house and garden which has been under intense scrutiny, there were previously unexplored corners of the garden and the brown bin is overflowing with ivy and trimmings.
In the world of short lets business has all but ground to a halt. We are allowed to continue hosting key workers and those stranded without a home, although the hoped-for influx of NHS/convalescent patients and self-isolators failed to appear. We are limping along on rental amounts with low occupancy. It is a case of surviving until things pick up.
The early days saw a bunch of chancers looking for fully serviced flats for £500/month including bills and cleaning. Quite frankly I would rather stay empty at those rates. Some hosts have offered their properties free or at cost to NHS workers. There is now a slow trickle of workers, returning to the dockyard, and various building sites, but the bookings are capricious and may cancel at any time should the C-word appear at the workplace, sending everyone home. Summer is cancelled so, if we are lucky, we will limp through to the winter season and start to turn a profit again next spring. The pace of business has ground to a halt along with everything else.
In Portsmouth, the number of listings has dropped from 680 to 589 (348 whole home listings rather than bedrooms in homes). It would be fair to say that the balance have probably been returned to the rental market, I have trimmed my own portfolio, only keeping the best performers for short lets. Airbnb and booking.com have both closed for all bookings so our local network (Southsea SA on facebook, with regular WhatsApp contact and a few zoom meetings, please join) becomes more important as we scrabble for whatever remaining business is around.
The 'new kid on the block' of rent-to-rent SA has died a sudden death and the facebook communities devoted to such things are awash with full furnishing kits as operators ship out to the next big thing. The flaw in the business model has been exposed and the numerous trainers and coaches who, only a couple of months ago, were promising the ever-elusive 'financial freedom' are peculiarly quiet. Conversations are hushed and behind closed doors as we try to find ways forward.
But the sky is super-blue, the seafront empty and the sea peculiarly clear. Enjoy the once in a lifetime chance to live in a clean and pleasant City!
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