In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis with inflation and interest rates rising and energy prices hitting record highs, housebuying will likely now be an even bigger barrier for many, and with people renting for longer, landlords need to demonstrate good value through the quality of product and service delivery.
With many new entrants into the sector of late, Adam Neumann’s Flow being the latest to catch on to what we’ve been doing for some time, increasing competition is a positive for potential renters, particularly in the face of the current economic climate. It provides more options to suit their needs and price point, while pushing operators to establish clear points of difference.
Without question, the thoughtful design of a development’s amenity space adds to the appeal for renters. Not only do they provide added value, these spaces support the delivery of the vibrant rental community many now seek.
The quality and energy efficiency of these new-build developments is also appealing, with typical energy ratings of ‘A’ to ‘C’ saving residents thousands a year.
However, the true differentiator and satisfaction driver among residents is the quality of service, people and the subsequent experience. Residents really value the personal touch of a dedicated on-site team – more so in difficult times.
So often people are frustrated by the challenges of getting in touch with service providers, amplified by the inability to speak to someone or long periods of time spent on hold. BTR eradicates that – providing relatively instant access to knowledgeable and trained help on your doorstep.
From the practical aspects of parcel collections to repairs and maintenance requests, the on-site team is a much-valued friendly face and warm smile for residents; a person to answer their questions on anything from local restaurants to the nearest doctors. Likewise, there’s a wider team readily available to help with other matters, including offering support for anyone facing financial difficulty.
Resident services teams also work hard to develop and grow communities within developments, with many sites offering annual events and working with local businesses to support the establishment of vibrant new communities. Through these initiatives, residents build stronger relationships within their community, often forging friendships. In turn, these relationships provide a sense of belonging, helping residents feel happy and settled.
To deliver these services, bespoke service-style training can be invaluable to reinforce a customer-focused mindset across the whole business. In addition, spending time with operations teams and meeting residents can better support teams and enhance service delivery.
As the sector develops, there will be many products with a similar physical offering. While it’s relatively straightforward to value a real estate asset, it’s much less simple to put a number on the value of our people.
Helen Gordon is chief executive of BTR landlord Grainger