Build to Rent Insights: understanding what renters want

NHBC brings together some Build to Rent industry leaders to share their thoughts on the future of this growing sector.

Build to Rent Insights – understanding what renters want - NHBC | BTR News

With Build to Rent leading the way in alternative residential assets, and as part of a continued commitment to long term asset protection and building it right first time, NHBC has brought together a selection of industry leaders to share their thoughts on the future of this growing sector.


Why Build to Rent is increasingly important

The ongoing housing shortage has remained a constant concern, with Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at British Property Federation remarking that “by 2012, the Government was delivering fewer homes than it had since 1925, so there was a desperate need to come up with new ways to deliver housing.” Build to Rent has come a long way in providing an array of tenures and varying price points, with more developers looking at mid-market options.

2012 was also a significant year for this sector as East Village, the ex-athlete’s village built for the Olympic and Paralympic Games became a Build to Rent development. Rick de Blaby, CEO of Get Living, explains this “has proven to be the sector exemplar, from which we have learned so much.” This was just the first of many developments making the most of this new approach to housing.

Four key themes

From lifestyle-led developments to the consideration of amenities and creating communities that promote regeneration and levelling up, Build to Rent is supporting key government policies. As highlighted by Richard Jackson, CEO and Co-Founder of Present Made, Build to Rent is “improving standards in the wider rental market”, making renting a more attractive proposition.

Indeed, it is clear from several contributors that Build to Rent offers attractive investment opportunities, supports growing housing demand by boosting numbers, and is evolving to add greater value by addressing changing consumer needs.

1. Creating a lifestyle

Increasingly consumers may not only consider a location, the ‘where we live’, but what that area has to offer, the ‘how we live’, showing the shift from location-based to lifestyle-based living choices. As Santhosh Gowda, Chairman of Strawberry Star Group explains that Build to Rent “offers location flexibility, lifestyle and amenity choices.”

2. Paying attention to amenities

Amenities can be wide-ranging and may include anything from a community lounge or library to options beyond leisure, such as office-like communal spaces for remote workers. As Heng Leong Cheong, CEO of EcoWorld London explains, each development may have different requirements, but the right amenities “play an important role in a successful Build to Rent scheme… we wait and seek feedback about the space from the people who end up living there, securing the community’s view on what it wants and needs.”

3. Embracing wellness

As Victoria Quinlan, President of Cortland Europe makes clear: “Green space and outdoor space” are increasingly important, further supporting the desire for wellness as an integral part of how people want to live. And post-pandemic Build to Rent offerings can add value by creating healthier spaces. Arguably this sector is uniquely positioned to provide developments that consider light, air quality and so much more, establishing “a platform that supports wellness”, Danielle Bayless, COO of Quintain Living.

4. Building communities

Changing attitudes post-pandemic, and an increasing awareness of loneliness, have driven a desire for a sense of community in the places people live. As Tom Goodall, Partner and Head of Residential at Related Argent summarises, there is an increasing need to create “communities and neighbourhoods… People want homes, not units.” Similarly, Michela Hancock, Managing Director Europe at Greystar notes Build to Rent is an opportunity “to provide a lifestyle choice and community.”

How can I get a free copy of Build to Rent Insights?

NHBC would like to thank all the contributors, who shared their time and expertise, for making this extensive collection of insights possible. For more from a host of industry experts, download your free copy of Build to Rent Insights.