Agony Agent: Jenna Harris, Head of Co-living at Harris Associates

Agony Agent Jenna Harris, Head of Co-living at Harris Associates answers some pressing questions from a resident, a Founder and investors.

Agony Agent: Jenna Harris, Head of Co-living at Harris Associates | BTR News
Agony Agent: Jenna Harris, Head of Co-living at Harris Associates.

[Resident Pete] I’m new to London, would you recommend that I stay in a co-living space?

[Agony Agent] Hi Pete, welcome to London! Absolutely, co-living is a fantastic way to meet people. In a recent study conducted by The Collective, they found that 71% of co-living residents felt that living in a shared community had improved their social life. It is also a more affordable way to access central London locations near the city’s main business and entertainment districts. It is estimated that co-living’s all-inclusive model comes out at approximately 20% cheaper than other rental products in the market. 

[Founder Julia] Dear Agony Agent, I’ve recently launched a real estate startup and wondered how I can leverage the latest marketing strategies to attract a wider audience and maximise exposure?

[Agony Agent] Hi Julia, that’s very exciting! It is a fantastic time to be leaning into new marketing technologies to stand out as a new business. A recent study showed that attaching a video in an email can lead to a 200-300% increase in click-through rates. As well as experiential marketing and video content, new AI systems such as ChatGPT enable people to understand their clientele and audience better than ever. I read an article about a company that created a profile of their clients and inputted into ChatGPT what their possible hesitation would be around transacting on an asset. The company then used that feedback to pre-empt possible obstacles and have solutions available to ensure a successful process. Learning how to exploit new systems to further inform your knowledge and insight into your customer will unlock endless opportunities. 

[Investor Stephen] I’m looking to invest in the living sectors, where would you suggest I start?

[Agony Agent] Hi Stephen, thank you for writing in. This is an interesting one – it is evident that the two ‘living’ asset classes that are higher density are student housing and co-living, and therefore on a sq ft basis, the rental return will be far higher than any other rental product in the market. From a construction cost and development perspective, co-living and PBSA represent a more viable proposition which allows for enhanced returns.

[Investor Melissa] What are the key factors to consider when developing a successful co-living property, taking into account the needs and preferences of potential tenants?

[Agony Agent] Hi Melissa, two key learnings from the first generation co-living buildings is that people will stay longer if their rooms are larger (over 18 sqm), and they spend most of their time in the co-working spaces as well as the gym. When designing a co-living building it’s very important to understand where the value is being driven for consumers and if they are able to live, work and workout in their building, which is not only convenient but cost cutting for people.