By Travis Knipe, CEO, StarRez
The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way the world views cities, with many people embracing new ways of living in response to their experiences during lockdowns. While this has seen many people leave urban environments for regional and seaside towns, it has also driven an increase in people clamouring for greater connection, garden spaces and balconies. There are some important lessons here for the Build to Rent sector, which has a range of technologies available that can help providers effectively and efficiently deliver what residents want in a post-pandemic world.
People still want city life
While regional towns have boomed during the pandemic, there is still a case for cities.
Cornwall has overtaken London this year as the most searched for location on Rightmove, and Metro have reported that people moving out of London hit a four year high in 2020; but the statistical increases in data were not excessive. In fact, a housing survey by the London Assembly Housing Committee in March 2021 found that just one in seven Londoners want to leave the city, while 43% want to move to a new home.
Meanwhile Knight Frank estimates that 95% of rent in the Build to Rent sector was collected in the second quarter of 2020, compared with average collection levels below 80% in the commercial sector.
People want cities, but what they want in their living experience is changing.
Delivering better resident experience
A piece by Squire Patton Boggs calls today ‘the world’s largest working from home experiment’ and points to changing resident needs – including the need for desk space, great internet, close proximity to work (to avoid public transport) and personal outdoor space among customers.
The expectation has escalated. The pressure on Build to Rent to be even more competitive from a proposition perspective is real in a post-pandemic world. But the pressure on cost remains.
That’s where great technology can be hugely enabling. Technology platforms now help Build to Rent brands nurture engaged communities as well as manage requests, rents and much more through a simple interface. They can streamline health and safety as well as track resident engagement so that providers can focus more on what their residents want. The right solutions can automate building entry, make facilities easy to book and manage, log requests for assistance and so much more.
Technology has the ability to become the glue that holds Build to Rent communities together, while delivering efficiencies and building positive brands for providers.
We think technology that enables community and enhances the Build to Rent lifestyle and resident experience have become more relevant than ever – and will play a key role in the evolution of the Build to Rent proposition and experience into the future.