Cost of living crisis underlines BTR’s core business proposition 

As the cost of living crisis continues, Build to Rent’s core business proposition can help customers weather the storm.

Gary Wright, Co-CEO at flatfair discusses how the cost of living crisis underlines Build to Rent’s core business proposition of bills or amenities included in rent | BTR News
Gary Wright, Co-CEO at flatfair discusses how the cost of living crisis underlines Build to Rent’s core business proposition of bills and amenities included in rent.

As the cost of living crisis continues, more and more data is coming out showing that consumer behaviours are, predictably, changing. AJ Bell’s recent figures warn that the boom in armchair investing is on the wane as purse strings tighten. The Bank of England has similarly demonstrated that households are saving less and borrowing more. The same is invariably true when it comes to one of the largest expenditures for households today, rent. Build to Rent has, not always correctly, earned the reputation of being a ‘premium’ product with an upmarket offering. Yet savvy renters can in fact find bundled in with their rent a series of cost-saving measures.

By Gary Wright, Co-CEO, flatfair

Polls of what tenants want from Build to Rent, such as the comprehensive survey undertaken by PRSim in 2018, consistently show that amenities that help with the cost of living rank highly – before the compounding cost of living was deemed a ‘crisis’. And when broken down by age group, it’s younger renters who emphasise cost-saving measures more than their elders. They are, after all, going to feel cost pressures more acutely than others.

And in data recently released by Rightmove, the property portal showed that enquiries into properties with ‘bills included’ – a hallmark of many Build to Rent developments – have jumped 36% to become the fastest growing most requested feature. ‘Zero deposit’ has similarly seen an increase in requests of more than 20%.

Many of the other perks traditionally bundled with Build to Rent are in fact a great way to save money. An onsite gym may be reflected in marginally higher rents, but it’s far cheaper than paying £50 a month to an outside gym provider when operation of the facilities can be bundled into extant operational costs to maximise efficiency. Similarly, free high-speed internet access can save renters a comparable amount. And as the Rightmove survey has proved, including bills in the total rent may be a savvy way to cushion the blow of sudden spikes in the cost of energy, for example.

This gets to an idea at the core of Build to Rent – that by offering top-spec buildings constructed to the latest standards of sustainability, including a high level of service, and offering a range of perks and amenities, tenants may actually save money compared to the leaky, poorly serviced, and largely perk-free homes that make up so much of the wider private rented sector.

Build to Rent developers and operators would do well to make note of this. As the cost of living continues to bite, they should double down on offerings that help their customers weather the storm. This is particularly important if they want to continue to attract young people, who are bearing the brunt of rising prices and bills.

flatfair as a company has a lot in common with Build to Rent. By simplifying the renting process, offering consumers greater choice, and doubling down on ease of use, our company and Build to Rent operators both understand that in the long run, professionalism can and does save money. And it’s no surprise that the data shows renters are understanding this, too.