Aberdeen Standard Investments – on behalf of its clients – have acquired Clarendon Quarter from Habitus Leeds, a 324-unit Build to Rent scheme just outside Leeds city centre. The deal marks the UK’s largest stabilised transaction for institutional grade, purpose-built accommodation – and the first in Leeds. This is Aberdeen Standard Investments third Build to Rent deal since lockdown.
“We’re delighted to complete the purchase of this well designed and well managed scheme in a dynamic and growing market. As the first purpose-built rental scheme in Leeds, it has a strong emphasis on operational design and displays all of the investment characteristics we target – Affordability, Accessibility and Amenity.”Ed Crockett, Head of UK Residential Investment, Aberdeen Standard Investments
The transaction also indicates the ‘Business as Usual’ nature of the Built to Rent investment market, which has been a theme during the lockdown period. Knight Frank advised Aberdeen Standard Investments on the deal, with JLL advising on operational matters – and CBRE represented Habitus Leeds.
“This transaction is a continued endorsement for the Build to Rent sector, which shows outstanding resilience in the current climate, demonstrating the ongoing demand for institutional, residential assets.
“Despite the ongoing market headwinds, occupancy and rent collection remained at high levels at Clarendon Quarter, throughout the acquisition process. The purchase is reflective of the appetite from investors for assets with proven strength of income and social benefits.”Adam Burney, Partner, Residential Capital Markets, Knight Frank
Clarendon Quarter – managed by the Fresh Property Group – comprises the former St Michaels School (The Court) and a new build block (The Gardens), with a BREEAM rating of Very Good. The Build to Rent scheme is in walking distance to the city’s amenities including a major shopping hub and is close to bars, restaurants, parks, theatres and a multiplex cinema.
The Clarendon Quarter development provides a mix of studio, one, two- and three-bedroom homes, including 262 apartments designated for key workers – which is let at a discount market rent. Amenity spaces include two lounges, gym, cinema room, co-working areas, laundry facilities, communal landscaped gardens and a roof terrace.
“The potential for rising unemployment is undoubtedly a challenge the sector will have to navigate and as a result our strategy has pivoted more towards the affordable end of the Build to Rent market, which shows strong risk adjusted performance as well as helping to meet the needs of the wider community.”Ed Crockett, Head of UK Residential Investment, Aberdeen Standard Investments
The investment is a further endorsement for the city of Leeds, the largest city region economy outside London and the largest contributor to UK GDP in the Northern Powerhouse. With a strong economy and significant employers – including the recent announcement to locate Channel’s 4’s HQ in the city, together with its highly skilled population, significant student retention from the many higher education institutions, the fundamentals are very strong for Build to Rent in Leeds.
“This is an incredible result in the most uncertain times and demonstrates the resilience of the residential sector. Clarendon Quarter is the first fully stabilised asset of its kind to trade in the UK, marking the start of the next chapter of the multifamily evolution.
“CBRE has sold £100m of Build to Rent stock into the Leeds market alone this year, signifying exciting times for the Northern residential market.”Mike Gorman, Head of CBRE’s Northern Development and Residential team