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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.