Last month, we saw Richard Simpson, Chief Executive of Watkin Jones, describe Covid-19 as BTR's "coming of age moment". Today, at Built Environment Networking's online conference on Housing & BTR, we heard similar sentiments e.g. Ed Ellerington of Packaged Living describing Covid-19 as a "catalyst" that will see more appetite in the sector. Time will tell.
One thing continues to resonate. The theme of flexibility looks set to play a key part in sector success- on a number of levels.
- Flexibility in product: Simpson mentions it. Plus it is not just about about multi-family apartment blocks, but also single family housing. It was interesting to hear that Packaged Living's single family housing fund is set for imminent launch (perhaps a good time?). BTR product needs to cater for all.
- Flexibility in pricing: It is not just about high end, urban apartment blocks. It was interesting to hear today from Jamie Kellett on the BMO/ Home Group low-to-middle market strategy (launched in January- again perhaps not a bad time?). BTR pricing needs to cater for all.
- Flexibility in design: The rapid impact of Covid-19 has highlighted the need for adaptability e.g. are BTR developments primed for more WFH? As mentioned by Ellerington, there is certainly one area that can accommodate flexibility- communal amenity space. BTR product needs to adapt to changing customer demand.
Covid-19 has only enhanced the need for flexibility. From plenty of fascinating debate today, it seems many are already wise to and confronting the challenge.
“Firstly, people want more flexibility on their tenancies – BTR puts the consumer first and offers a range of tenancies,”