Midlands to get build-to-rent investment from major asset manager

A partnership between leading financial asset manager ICG-Longbow and property management firm SDL Group will see £250m invested into building more than 2,000 build-to-rent properties in the Midlands, in line with the market’s general refocus away from homeownership.

ICG-Longbow, a London Stock Exchange-listed fund provider, traditionally invests in UK commercial real estate debt-related investments, while SDL Group is a national property services group offering surveying, property management, auctions and agency and financial services.

The joint venture, which will be named Wise Living, will inject a £250m investment into the construction of 2,000 new homes specifically to be rented out in the Midlands. And while the majority of build-to-rent developments comprise high-spec flats in central locations, predominantly targeted at young professionals, Wise Living will build larger properties aimed at families further out of city centres. The partnership is hoping to plug a major gap in the market, with reports that only 10% of build-to-rent homes being built are houses.

New type of build-to-rent

As getting onto the housing ladder across much of the country becomes less and less attainable, many people are renting for longer. As a result, people’s preferences are changing, particularly as renters age, with some even choosing renting over buying due to lifestyle factors rather than financial considerations. Many people now prefer the flexibility and living standards that can be achieved in these types of high-quality, purpose-built rental homes, and more companies, investors and developers are hoping to meet this demand where there is currently a shortage.

ICG-Longbow co-founder Martin Wheeler said: “The private rented sector is a compelling investment case because the undersupply of houses, which goes back decades, has now become more acute because it’s more difficult to buy.”

He also added that future investments could see the company plough as much as £1bn into this type of housing over the next three years, which would prove a major boost to the sector – and could encourage others to follow suit to cash in on the high levels of demand in the market.

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