Build-to-rent homes increase by 23% in 2020

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The number of completed build-to-rent homes increased by 23% in 2020, according to research by the British Property Federation (BPF)

Government EPC data on total quarterly housing completions for England and Wales, revealed that build-to-rent delivered 4% of all new homes, and around a fifth of all new homes in London, in the final quarter of 2020.

The sector continues to accelerate new housing supply outside of London, outstripping the capital in both current and future supply.

Every region of the UK recorded positive growth in future supply, with the planning pipeline in Northern Ireland increasing the most significantly.

The East of England and Scotland ranked second and third, respectively.

With 32,395 build-to-rent homes – complete, under construction or in planning – the North West still boasts the largest number of build-to-rent homes outside of London.

Drops in the number of build-to-rent homes under construction in the North East (-38%), North West (-23%) and South West (-19%) are positively backed by significant increases in the number of homes in planning, signifying a healthy future pipeline for the sector in these regions.

Equally, a drop in the number of homes in planning in the South East (-24%) is positively supported by an increase of 118% in the number under construction, demonstrating that developments are successfully getting through the planning system.

With no uplift in the number of build-to-rent homes under construction in London, and only a 2% rise in the number in planning, the capital’s future growth remains subdued.

Across the UK, there are now around 5,000 completed build-to-rent homes located in suburban areas, 10% of all completed build-to-rent homes.

‘Firing on all cylinders’

Ian Fletcher, director of real estate policy at British Property Federation, said: “The build-to-rent sector has shown its resilience throughout 2020, with investors continuing to drive the sector’s growth across every region of the UK.

“The quantum of planning applications in London, however, is static – suggesting that the capital is having to compete more for investment.

“Throughout 2020, around one in five homes completed in London have been build-to-rent – in the regions this share is lower, despite the volume of build-to-rent homes in the regions now surpassing London.

“There remains a significant opportunity for the sector to increase its share of completions in our regional cities and towns, further supporting local housing supply ambitions, and this will include more suburban houses that families can call home.

“As we continue to spend more time than ever before in our homes, the pandemic has brought into sharper focus the need for high-quality housing and a solution to our country’s housing supply-demand imbalance.

“Every housing sector will need to be firing on all cylinders, but it is hugely positive to see the UK’s rental market become increasingly professional, giving more choice to customers who either choose or need to rent.”

‘Suburban schemes to play a key role in delivering homes in 2021’

Jacqui Daly, director at Savills residential research, added: “We saw investment and interest in the build-to-rent market continue in 2020 despite the lockdowns.

“Suburban build-to-rent has had a particularly strong year, proving very popular with customers.

“Investors have reported high reservations, with demand driven by customers looking for more space for family and work as a direct result of the experience of lockdown.

“Our analysis has identified a pipeline of 8,500 suburban homes in planning and under construction that will help meet this demand for rental homes in locations that can combine more space, good amenities and connectivity.

“We expect suburban schemes to play a key role in delivering homes in 2021 and in providing high-quality rental housing in regional markets, helping to address housing need, particularly for young families.”

The research has been produced by Savills, commissioned by the BPF, and draws on Glenigan’s planning database and Molior in London.

Russell Pedley, director and co-founder of Assael, commented: “Despite the hit taken on the sector by the pandemic last year, the latest figures from the BPF demonstrate that Build-to-rent is the alternative asset that keeps on proving its worth, which will only lead to more investment.

“We’ve not seen any BTR schemes delayed on-site and with Blackhorse Mills for Legal & General and Millet Place/Pontoon Dock for Grainger leasing up last year, demand is continuing to build. Not just in the UK either, we’ve noticed increased activity in Europe and Australia by investors too.

“The research also indicates a shift to suburban locations which is something we predicted last year as renters crave access to outdoor space which Covid-19 has restricted – this is especially relevant as suburban schemes will still provide a community feel of living in a city centre while offering the benefits of being closer to nature.”

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