Editor: The pandemic has put BTR in the spotlight and reaffirmed the appeal of renting as a lifestyle choice. In an ever-more saturated rental market, technology will be the crucial point of difference.


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As Rebecca Taylor rightly says, the pandemic has led many to question our national preoccupation with stepping on to the housing ladder. However, even prior to the pandemic, a desire for flexibility was the primary reason for renting among 30% of people aged 25 and under.

So where does the rental market go from here? The appeal of renting is clear, but with the emergence of a two-speed rental market and declining yields from urban portfolios, differentiation is key. While rents in the countryside were up by almost three times the national average in October this year, rents in the capital had fallen by 5.3% year on year.

In city locations, the market has also become increasingly saturated with short-term holiday lets now repurposed as longer-term rental homes, so standing out is essential.

Tech-enabled property management services improve responsiveness and accessibility for tenants, while smart sensors can monitor factors such as air quality and detect any changes caused by damp or other maintenance issues.

For both standing housing stock and BTR, this can make all the difference in enhancing yields. But tech can also be central to improving the outlook for investors from the beginning. At Skwire, we have developed an AI algorithm trained on more than 150 million datapoints and 11 years of residential information, allowing us to locate best-in-class investment opportunities and pinpoint demand.

For BTR schemes, the same technology can be redeployed – helping to design building specifications according to proven trends in demand at a hyper-localised level.

The pandemic has put the rental market in the spotlight and standing out from the crowd has never been more important – technology is pivotal in this. If investors and developers fail to take note, they risk being left behind just as the private rental sector, including BTR, begins to realise its full potential.

Elisabeth Kohlbach, co-founder, Skwire