Build to rent. Three little words set to change the lives of frustrated renters everywhere. But do they know what it is, really?Buzz-phrases abound in the property sector, but trust me, this one’s worth sitting up and listening to!
The dream of owning a home in London is far out of reach for many first-time buyers. The average London deposit currently stands at an eye-watering £106,000, according to Halifax, with the average London property costing just shy of £474,000.
Goodbye renting stigma
True: many people are forced into rental homes because they can't afford to buy. But I’m relieved to see the stuffy stigma around renting slowly eroding. It’s becoming a lifestyle choice across generations, rather than a mark of failure. The old mantra of ‘everyone wants to buy their own home’ simply does not ring true anymore.
Renting offers the flexibility to move on a relative whim, as well as the chance to live in a desirable location you couldn’t afford to buy in. And it’s not just young professionals and families saying no thank you to mortgages. More retirees are considering renting too, be it to free up cash after selling up or reduce some of the stress that comes with being a homeowner.
I'm confident renters will be a huge part of the future: a recent PwC forecast predicts two thirds of Londoners will be renting by 2025. But despite this, the renter experience is too often put on the back-burner, which is why Movebubble is on a mission to make renting better for renters.
I’m hugely proud of the big strides Movebubble is making in raising awareness of the rental sector as a whole. Renters can now find hundreds of first-rate homes on our app. We're enabling renters to get responses in minutes, rather than days with our in-app messenger, becasue let's face it, millennials just don't do voicemail. In fact, we can save renters up to 100 hours on their search.
But if renting could become a much more desirable option in general, it’d shake up an industry that’s been stuck in the past for too long. That’s where build-to-rent comes in.
Build to rent represents a ripe opportunity for property developers because it gives them the chance to build the housing renters are looking for.
Ticking renters' boxes
I always look forward to our monthly renter evenings; meeting the people we're solving problems for keeps us grounded and reminds us how important our goals are.
Only recently, we asked our lovely Movebubblers what was top of their renting wishlists. They spoke of their longing to secure a professionally-managed home in a buzzy community, without having to wave goodbye to the huge sum of money usually taken as a security deposit (the average is £1,750 in London, according to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme).
Of course, in the build to rent world, hefty deposits are a thing of the past, making renting more affordable. These renter-first developments feature a 24/7 concierge service, cosy communal areas and on-site amenities such as gyms, all included in the monthly rental fee. They boast high quality, modern interiors, many allow pets and some offer longer-term tenancies for security.
In London alone there are nearly 73,000 build to rent homes either completed, under construction or planned, with huge built to rent development also underway in other major UK cities such as Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds.
But 60% of renters don't know BTR exists!
It’s great news all round, but only if renters fully understand and appreciate everything build to rent homes can offer them that traditional lets - even those run by the fairest and most competent of landlords - cannot.
I recently discovered that just over a third of renters are aware of build to rent initiatives, suggesting much more needs to be done to bring these awesome new developments to their attention.
Renters are at the heart of everything we do, so any home built with their needs in mind is a home we’re keen to list on our popular app.
Getting the word out through Movebubble ONE
To help our renters find the best properties specifically designed for renters, we’ve created Movebubble ONE, a bespoke space within the app for all the build to rent homes we help promote.
Renters can simply filter listings to see the best apartments on offer from our partners Tipi, GetLiving, Essential Living and Greystar.
These developments are spread across London, from East Village in Stratford (the original build to rent success story on the site of the former Olympic athletes’ village) to Sailmakers in Canary Wharf. We've visited them all personally to make sure they're as cool and forward-thinking as they profess to be - and I can say with confidence that they are.
These swish and modern pads are all built with renters in mind. It’s little wonder, then, that on average, renters in the market for a build to rent property are making three more enquiries through our app than those seeking a traditional let.
Getting stuck into the data
By analysing our unique search data, we're able to collate fascinating insights into what renters really care about - and not just what developers think they do. I can't wait to partner with more build-to-rent developers and together use this data to do what Movebubble does best - make renting suck less (all while driving higher income returns for investors).
We’re also upping the ante with our marketing, popping up in Tube stations and on buses, getting the word out to renters that there’s finally a property company that puts them first.
The more renters that start using our app, the more we can introduce to build-to-rent homes they may not have considered before. The number of enquiries renters sent through Movebubble jumped a massive 143% last year, so we’re looking forward to even more exciting growth in 2019 now Movebubble ONE is in the picture.
This journey's only just beginning with vast opportunity ahead. Please do buckle up and join us on the ride.