Ascend research reveals growing popularity of Cheshire SFH BTR

Ascend's latest ‘Snapshot’ report highlights the growing popularity of single-family housing (SFH) Build to Rent in Cheshire.

Heyfields, Manchester | Ascend | BTR News
Heyfields, Manchester.

In its latest ‘Snapshot’ report, Ascend’s new research reveals the rising popularity of SFH Build to Rent in Cheshire.

The research shows the growing demand for SFH Build to Rent in smaller towns and semi-rural locations, in contrast to the suburban sites that the sector is typically perceived to occupy.

The average monthly SFH rent in Cheshire is £935, only marginally below the £965 recorded in Greater Manchester, the focus of the previous Snapshot.

Rents have risen 12% over the past year – compared to 7.8% nationally, according to Zoopla – but remain affordable; they represent 26.1% of household income on average, well below Homes England’s 35% guidance for affordability.

In contrast to suburban locations, the average single-family rental (SFR) resident in Cheshire is slightly older (35, compared to 32 in Greater Manchester), and more likely to have children – 43% of SFR households in Cheshire include children, against 37.5% in Greater Manchester.

The data suggests a typical resident demographic slightly more advanced in terms of age and life milestones, something that is reinforced by an average household income of £55,000 (Greater Manchester: £47,900).

Average tenancy length is two years and six months, something that is impacted by the relatively recent development of the majority of Cheshire SFR, where more than half of these homes are five years old or less.

30% of residents have lived in their properties for three years or more – a lower proportion than in Greater Manchester, a more mature market – and 73% renew/remain in their home past the initial tenancy period.

Distance moved to current homes casts some more light on the typical occupier, with 31.5% moving less than three miles, and 22% over 100 miles. This reflects the diverse nature of SFR and also the economic base of Cheshire, with people either relocating a long distance to one of the county’s major employers, or already having to commute so prioritising staying nearby to their previous home when moving house.

The SFR sector has undergone a period of accelerating growth over the past decade. While initial expansion tended to be in suburban locations close to major conurbations, the growth of the asset class in semi-rural Cheshire is an increasing focus of institutional investment.

Other findings from the Snapshot on Cheshire SFR

  • 59% of units are three-bedroom houses (Greater Manchester: 52%).
  • Two bedroom houses have an average monthly rent of £805, three bedroom £970 and four bedroom £1,115.
  • 99.1% occupancy rate across Ascend-managed homes in Cheshire.
  • 99% of rents are collected from Ascend-managed homes in Cheshire.

“This Snapshot provides a fascinating insight into the market in Cheshire, a county that is more rural than would typically be perceived as an ideal location for SFR, and yet resident demand is clearly both strong and rising. Demographics suggest a resident base that is slightly older, and with more children, than in more suburban Greater Manchester, which itself is quite reflective of Cheshire as a whole.

“What we are seeing is SFR not only as an active, positive choice for those seeking the space and high-quality product on offer, but also the rising importance of the sector in a typical person’s rental journey. As average first-time buyer ages increase, SFR is catering for the longest segment of a resident’s time in the rental sector. It is meeting the needs of a huge range of resident types, with professional sharers as well as young and more mature families attracted by the advantage of SFR in Cheshire.”

Paul Borrmann, Managing Director, Ascend

Ascend is the UK’s largest third-party operator of SFH Build to Rent and manages two thirds of the entire asset class, holding the largest set of live operational data for the sector.

The company’s Snapshot reports draw on blended data across all stabilised SFR schemes under Ascend’s management, alongside additional inputs taken from Zoopla’s reporting suites, to give investors an accurate, real-time picture of how this asset class performs in different geographical markets.

This report is the second of a series of snapshots that analyse the SFR market in a range of locations across the UK. Drawing exclusively on Ascend’s own data – the largest set of live operational data for this asset class in the UK – the suite of research provides a comprehensive insight into the SFR sector and its residents.

Ascend is the leading third-party operator of institutionally owned SFR, with over 7,000 homes under its management, equating to around two thirds of the entire UK asset class.

“This snapshot again highlights the attraction of professionally managed rental houses built for rental, with longer rental periods and high levels of renewal. The high occupancy rates demonstrate why there is a significant need for delivery of many more SFR homes. It also shows the popularity of SFR in more rural areas – a trend that is attracting institutional investors to fund additional homes.”

Brendan Geraghty, CEO, ARL