How To Quickly Compare Rental Demand Between Areas – Using Rightmove

Ok so before we get into this post, all the general factors about buying in a good area apply. 

What we mean by this is factors that attract people to live in certain places. 

E.g Good schools will attract families that probably want 2-4 bedroom houses depending on the size of the family.

Cities with lots of amenities and employers will attract young single people or young couples that want 1-2 bedroom properties. 

But the focus of this post is to check whether one area is better for tenant demand compared to another area.

As a quick overview here’s how you can check if there’s tenant demand in an area:

  • Check how old the listings are
  • Compare available properties vs let agreed properties
  • Check renters vs home owners demographics

Check How Old The Listings Are ⏳

If there are lots of old listings in an area then that means the local rental market isn’t that active, so you want to avoid this.

Of course, this mainly applies to properties that are in acceptable condition and are the type of property you would be interested in.

If it’s a squalid-looking place and it’s been on the market for 4 months then I wouldn’t be worried. 

At the same time if you see some higher-end rentals that have been on the market for a while I wouldn’t be too worried (unless you’re going for the high-end rental market).

E.g. If the types of properties you are going to invest in rent out at around £1000 a month and you see a luxury rental that’s marketed at £1800 a month but hasn’t moved in months, then I wouldn’t worry about this.

But, if you see quite a few listings similar to the types of properties you are interested in that have been on the market for multiple months, then that can be a cause for concern. 

In areas with good tenant demand, places will normally be taken off the market within a few weeks. 

So if you see a bunch of places that have been on the market for a few months then it’s probably not the best area for tenant demand. 

Remember, voids are a landlord’s worst enemy.

When checking for how old listings are, I would make sure to look specifically at the types of properties you plan to invest in.

For example, if you are going to be investing in 2-bedroom properties in an area, then it doesn’t matter what the rental market is like for a 4-bedroom property in the same area.

How to Check How Old Listings Are On Rightmove

Ok, so Rightmove already tells you either the last reduced date or the date a property was added to Rightmove.

Unfortunately, if you just see that a property was reduced yesterday it could mean that it’s been on the market for 2 months prior.

To see the listing’s history use the Property Log Chrome Extension as it will show you when the property was added as well as every date that the listing has changed prices.

Compare Available Properties Vs Let Agreed Ratio ⚖️

Comparing the number of available properties to the number of let-agreed properties gives you an idea of the demand and supply in an area.

If there are lots of available properties but not many that are let agreed, that suggests there is too much supply and little demand.

On the other hand, if there are lots of let-agreed properties but not many available properties to let, then that means there is strong demand and new properties are quickly being taken off the market by prospective tenants. 

Here’s how you can check this using Rightmove.

  1. First, choose an area then choose a property type. 

    Oh and make sure you are searching properties ‘for rent’ and not ‘for sale’.
  1. In this example, I’ve chosen 2 bedroom properties within ¼ miles of York city centre.
  1. Make note of the number of available properties. In this example I’ve found 63 properties.
  1. Now you want to change the search to include let agreed properties. 

    Do this by going to ‘filters’ and selecting ‘Include Let Agreed’.
  1. Now make note of the number of properties when including let agreed properties, in this case, it’s 131 properties.
graphic showing a screenshot from rightmove comparing available properties vs available properties including let agreed to assess rental demand

Now it’s time to do the numbers…

So for 2-bedroom properties within 1/4 miles of the York City Centre area:

  • Available properties = 63
  • Total properties including let agreed = 131
  • Let agreed properties = 131- 63 = 68
  • Available to let agreed ratio = 0.92

This means for every let agreed property there are only 0.92 available properties.

But on its own, this means nothing, we need to compare to another area to compare rental demand.

Let’s look at the same property type (2-bedroom properties), but now we’ll look at 1/4 miles within Sheffield City Centre:

graphic showing a screenshot from rightmove comparing available properties vs available properties including let agreed to assess rental demand in sheffield city centre

So for 2 bedroom properties within 1/4 miles of the Sheffield Centre area:

  • Available properties = 131
  • Total Properties including let agreed = 179
  • Let agreed properties = 48
  • Available to let agreed ratio: = 2.73

This means for every 1 let agreed property there are 2.73 available properties.

So let’s compare the two areas now side by side.

York City Centre, 2 bedrooms:

  • Available properties per let agreed property = 0.92

Sheffield City Centre, 2 bedrooms:

  • Available properties per let agreed property = 2.97

Using our example of 2 bedroom properties within 1/4 miles of the city centre, you can see that there are more available properties per let agreed property in Sheffield.

This suggests you’ll have less tenant demand per property in Sheffield compared to York, as there is more supply of properties for tenants to choose from.

But, that’s not the whole story.

Since this is a very simple way of measuring tenant demand you should try to narrow down your results to be more accurate for the types of tenants you’re interested in.

You should filter down to the actual price range of properties you are looking to invest in as well as any other characteristics like whether the property needs to have parking.

E.g. If you are going to be purchasing properties that will rent out at £900-£1100 a month there is no point including properties that rent out at £1500-£1600 as that would be a completely different tenant profile.

Comparing Property Type 🏘

You can also use this same technique to compare different property types within the same area.

For example, you can check the ratio of available properties per let agreed property for 2-bedroom properties vs 1-bedroom properties.

This is useful if you’re set on a specific location but just want to figure out what kind of properties in that area have the most demand for tenants.

Area Demographics 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

The proportion of renters to homeowners in an area is another important factor to consider.

In certain areas, most people will just be homeowners and rental demand probably won’t be the best. 

In these kinds of areas with higher home ownership, it may be a better strategy to go for a flip project rather than buy-to-let.

To find the data for this use the link below:

You can use this page to filter by constituency and even by neighbourhood.

The area boundaries won’t be exactly the same as Rightmove but they’ll be close enough that you can use the data effectively.

Luckily we’ve had a census in the UK in 2021 so this data is pretty recent.

Overall, if you see a low % of homeowners in a constituency this suggests that there is high rental demand as there is a higher proportion of renters in that area. 

For example, if the % of homeowners is less than 50% then you know that there are more renters than homeowners in an area.

But you should be careful with these figures.

Some areas that have very low homeownership rates, may have high rates of renters, but it may be more social housing renters rather than private market renters.

This is fine if your strategy is social housing but if you are looking for private market renters then you don’t want to get mixed up with social housing which is slightly different. 

Further Reading

Now you should know a quick and easy way to check rental demand in an area using Rightmove.

Once you’ve decided on an area to invest in you’ll want to know how to find below market value properties.

When you’ve started looking at a specific area you might be faced with a common issue where the exact address of listings aren’t shown on Rightmove.

Luckily we have some workarounds so you can find the full address of a property on Rightmove.