Industry picks up as market gets moving once again
The moving business is booming thanks to a rise in rentals and lack of storage space in modern homes. Sharon Dale reports
THE property market is moving again after a long five years in the doldrums, which means removal men and women could be in for an even busier time.
For while many companies have stagnated during the recession, some removal firms have experienced an upturn in business.
McCarthy’s Removals and Storage, based in Leeds and Harrogate, which has been run as a successful family firm for over 40 years, say the booming rental market has kept them rushed off their feet.
The number of people in rented accommodation has rocketed to 8.5 million and the average tenancy lasts just 18 months, which means lots more moving. Owner occupiers flit every seven years, on average.
McCarthy’s also report that more owners are selling up to move into rented property temporarily so they can be in a prime position to buy a new home and present themselves as chain free cash buyers. This means two moves in quick succession with an additional need for storage.
And it is the storage side of the business which is really taking off, according to the Self Storage Association, which has grown consistently by between eight and 15 per cent over the last five years.
In fact, it claims the UK now has as many self storage facilities as it does McDonald’s restaurants – around 1,200 – and the total area of self storage floor space in the UK adds up to a staggering 40 million sq ft. That’s more than 520 Wembley-size football pitches.
Mike McCarthy, managing director of McCarthy’s, explains the typical self-storage facility customer:
“In terms of the number of customers the divide is roughly two-thirds private to one-third business.
“Big companies often need storage, but the rise of internet companies and entrepreneurs working from their spare bedroom also means there are lots of smaller businesses without anywhere to keep stock.”
He adds: “In the domestic market, self-storage is used by all kinds of people, although customers often seem be in their thirties or forties. I think its rise in popularity is for a number of reasons.
“People looking to sell their property in this difficult climate are following the advice to declutter, putting unnecessary items in storage.
“We see families who are separating and therefore downsizing, or older couples making changes when children have flown the nest.
“Or we see couples moving in together who have both previously had properties, resulting in too much furniture for one home.
“Alongside all of those spurs are the facts that new houses have reduced in size over the last 30 years, and that more people are converting their lofts and garages, rather than moving house, losing what storage they did have. The average home can seem fit to burst.
“And after all, it is substantially cheaper to use a storage facility than buy or rent a bigger house, and there are no ties, it’s secure and you can still have 24-hour access to your stuff.”
If you’re packing up and possibly looking to store for a while, here are some top tips from the experts at McCarthy’s:
Get the right size of storage – there’s no point paying for more than you are likely to need, or finding you can’t fit everything in. Units range from the size of phone box to a tennis court.
When wrapping breakables, paper will do fine, but bubble wrap can be used repeatedly, and makes identifying contents easier. We can supply all the moving essentials you might need, such as boxes, tape and bubble wrap. Don’t be tempted to use printed newspaper – the ink gets everywhere.
Bust Out Your Tetris Skills – even the smallest storage unit can hold a great deal, if you use the space wisely. This means packing things all the way to the ceiling, storing sofas and mattresses on end, and stacking chairs pad-topad.
Interiors of appliances can also be filled with linens, clothes and stuffed toys.
Label, label, label - Even though you know exactly what you’re putting in at the time, it doesn’t mean in six months you’ll have a clue.
If you’re decluttering or packing up focus on one room at a time. Taking on several rooms at once can feel overwhelming and create more mess.
As well as a variety of sizes, there are also many different types of storage units. Do you need 24-hour access? Do you want to be able to drive directly up to your unit?
Make sure you feel happy with security. Are there entry pin codes and cameras as you approach the building? Do you have your own lock and key for your unit?
When decluttering or downsizing, consider using storage as a time-limited trial separation from your items. If you don’t miss it or need to retrieve it, are you likely to ever need it again? Be ruthless and it could pay off. You can sell what you don’t need on eBay and make some extra money.
COUNTRY CHARM: Both Vine and Pear Tree cottages have been transformed into beautiful homes with the help of skilled historic building specialists and the craftsmen. The properties are set in the two-and-a-half acres on the edge of the Owston Hall country house hotel’s 150 acre estate and golf course.
CUPBOARD LOVE: A move towards renting is providing more business for removals firms.