Many are hailing 2016 as the year of build-to-rent. We’ve seen major announcements from L&G, M&G and Grainger (05.02.16).
Finally, HMRC is clamping down on buy-to-let, which should level the playing field for corporates.
Many investors are still too focused on London and the South East, and only Manchester has really emerged as a true regional rental hot spot for investors.
Of course the answer is to ensure we have a balance of focus, with the right product targeting the right markets up and down the country. With nine million people privately renting across England, there is a wealth of opportunity.
Our initial pipeline of 1,400 is spread across regional towns and cities, with the focus on city-centre living, which boasts a wealth of amenities for time-poor professionals. We want to transform the housing market in these areas by creating thoughtfully designed buildings that incorporate smart technology throughout. Our offer is lifestyle-enhancing.
Unlike major cities, towns such as Bracknell, Crawley or Stevenage - where three of our schemes are - don’t currently have a professional rental offer. Yet they are major employment hubs for firms such as BMW, Dell, GlaxoSmithKline and of course all the airlines at Gatwick. Such locations have a high rental demand, but the existing rental offer is poor.
While different investors and operators are approaching things in their own distinctive ways, one thing we all agree on is the need to offer a professional service to differentiate build-to-rent from the current private rented sector. It isn’t only those in the capital who want a better deal from renting.
Dominic Martin, operations and strategy director, Westrock