Who lives in SFH Build to Rent and why?

Savills' latest data delves deeper into who lives in the single-family housing (SFH) sector, highlighting popularity among younger renters.

The Kedleston Grange single-family Build to Rent development | Savills | BTR News
The Kedleston Grange single-family Build to Rent development. Image credit: Savills.

Savills’ latest research identified the demographics that choose to reside in single-family Build to Rent houses and why. Largely popular among young families, rental demand in suburban locations has risen (54%). However, the supply of new homes has been wholly focussed on the urban markets (35%).

According to Savills’ research, local amenities are the number one priority for single-family housing (SFH) tenants, meaning proximity to local schools, green spaces and health services are fundamental. Suburban locations where access to road networks is an important attribute for SFH schemes, as most workers are car dependent.

41% of young families prefer SFH schemes as they are affordable homes in locations nearby to good schools and safe playgrounds and amenities that are suitable for young children. However, 20% of young couples/singles choose SFH for ease of access to local amenities, such as fitness and wellness spaces. Schools, nurseries, and safe outdoor spaces are also considered for the potential of starting a family.

Larger homes with affordable rents in good school catchment areas with convenient retail and sports facilities are important factors in SFH for established families (19%). Moreover, 12% of middle-aged couples/singles prefer SFH for its spacious homes in high-quality environments with a strong community. Space to work at home and access to health services and convenience stores are also important.

8% of over 60s choose SFH homes because they need minimum maintenance and are energy efficient. They could be moving to be closer to their families and require strong communities that are close to amenities and health services.

“Aimed at working families and co-renters, the offer is better quality than the wider PRS – properties will be cheaper to run with fewer maintenance costs, given they are newer homes.”

Guy Whittaker, Associate, Head of UK Build to Rent Research, Savills

Savills highlights that SFH is popular with the younger demographic of the private rental market. Almost 90% of occupiers are under the age of 45 compared to 51% across the whole PRS and 57% for new builds.

Despite the prominence of the younger demographic, Savills expects SFH to represent more of an equal age shift – moving closer to match that of the wider PRS sector, as families stay in their chosen homes throughout their children’s school years. This would create a community of established families alongside a flow of new families moving in.

Compared to the wider PRS, incomes of households living in SFH are above average. Therefore, the median amount that single-family households spend on rent is 25% of gross income. This is slightly less than the median spends in the English PRS (33%) and within what the ONS defines as affordable rent (less than 30% of gross income).

Analysing external research, the most common employment sector for SFH tenants is ‘professional occupations.’ This categorisation includes nurses, teachers and social workers, for example, and is much more common in SFH (31%) compared to the wider PRS (19%).

“Welsh Streets appears to be an ideal home for key workers. The 254 houses are currently home to 90 key workers from the Health & Social Care, and Education & Research occupation groups.”

Guy Whittaker, Associate, Head of UK Build to Rent Research, Savills