Build-to-rent: top quality with a hefty price tag? Not necessarily…

This housing model is often perceived as a much more expensive option than traditional buy-to-let. However, the burgeoning asset class might be more affordable than people think.

The build-to-rent industry is booming across the UK as the country’s rental sector becomes more important and diverse. For tenants, the sector tends to offer a higher quality of living and a more inclusive rental community due to the fact that developments tend to be exclusively renters. But added extras normally come at a cost.

Yet a new study by Dataloft has revealed that this may not be the case. The research, which analysed more than 20,000 tenants across 15,000 homes, compared the demographics of urban tenants in the sector with those in the private rented sector as a whole. It found that incomes, professions, ages and affordability were largely similar.

BTR big spenders?

Among urban build-to-rent tenants, 32% earn an average of £19,000 to £32,000 per year. In the private rented sector as a whole, by comparison, 37% earn this amount.

It also found that dwellers in this niche sector tend to pay 30% of their salaries on rent. In the PRS as a whole, though, it is more like 33%, with the ONS deeming a home affordable if it takes up 30% or less of household income.

One in five inhabitants of the sector are public sector workers, which is also similar to the market as a whole.

From a property investment perspective, high demand within the rental market now, combined with many of today’s tenants expecting more from their rental home, make build-to-rent an increasingly attractive space to consider.

Getting more for your money

One of the main things that appeals to tenants in build-to-rent is the added extras that are normally included. More than just a home, the properties are tailored for the renting demographic who lives there, making them a more enticing option than buy-to-let for many.

The report says: “BTR doesn’t just provide residents with a home for their monthly rent payment – 78 per cent of schemes in the urban data had a roof terrace or shared garden, 73 per cent a have a concierge, 73 per cent have social events, 69 per cent have parcel acceptance and storage, and 61 per cent have a co-working space.”

Sandra Jones, managing director of Dataloft, comments: “Private rental sector v build-to-rent is not a binary ‘them and us’ and this kind of data sharing initiative is key to understanding the whole rental ecosystem.”

A burgeoning market

The build-to-rent space is still relatively small in the UK compared to other countries like the US. However, it has seen exponential growth in recent years, with an estimated 140,000 homes in the pipeline right now. According to the report, more than 80% of these are in the 20 cities earmarked by the government for increased housing targets.

Between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021, the number of build-to-rent homes coming to market grew by 26%. In numbers, there were 63,950 completions, up from 50,798 last year.

James Simondson, assistant director (housing) at the British Property Federation, comments, “BTR homes – high-quality, professionally managed, purpose-built homes for private rent – are being taken up by a diverse range of people across England.”

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