Smart home interface

Build-to-rent top investment choice as tenants willing to pay more

Purpose-built rental homes continue to take the private rented sector by storm. Generation rent has never been more willing to pay more for the added extras.

The build-to-rent sector has boomed over recent years as renting as a lifestyle choice has become more commonplace. More and more property investors and landlords are now discovering the sector as a future-proof investment option.

Compared to a traditional buy-to-let, a build-to-rent home tends to offer much more. Designed with renters in particular in mind, they often have a focus on building communities. Rather than staying for a year before moving on, often these properties attract longer-term tenants, so a sense of belonging to a community is more important.

Another added extra that often comes with the sector is smart technology. The purpose-built homes and blocks tend to contain more of these features than a traditional rental.

Invest more to make more

A new survey from build-to-rent operator Wise Living sheds more light on this idea. It found that 85% of tenants wanted instant connectivity in their homes, with access to superfast broadband and TV packages. It also showed that three quarters of renters wanted smart lighting and heating, and around the same amount wanted smart security systems.

Often, such smart home technology comes as standard in build-to-rent. But while it may put the property at a higher premium than a more basic rental, it certainly pays off. The survey found that renters would pay an additional £1,178 per year for a more high-tech home – around 10%.

Part of this result is also driven by the changing rental demographic. Renting rather than owning is an increasingly popular life choice for older adults. This includes families and older couples as well as young professionals. For investors and landlords who enter the sector, this means potentially higher rents over time.

Flexibility and convenience

The Covid outbreak has also played a part in people’s changing attitudes to what they want in their home. The rise of homeworking is a major factor. This is something property investors and landlords should certainly consider when looking for their next rental home investment.

Anne Malone, head of customer experience at Wise Living, says: “Our findings demonstrate that people want more than the basics from their rental homes – they’re looking for a place that gives them a good quality of life too as for many their home is now also their office. Super-fast broadband, in particular, is no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’ but an essential utility for many households.

“The Covid-19 lockdowns influenced our attitudes towards technology as we depended on it for remote working and streaming entertainment services but it’s not the only reason.”

“In fact, the survey results reflect the wider changes that have been taking place in the rental market for several years.

“We’re seeing growing numbers of families and older couples opting for purpose-built rental properties in the suburbs, so it’s not just younger professionals living in city centre apartments. This is usually because they’re looking for flexibility and convenience – which explains why they want their homes kitted out with the latest technology too.”

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