Could these areas become the next BTR hotspots?

Build-to-rent (BTR) provider Wise Living, has carried out research identifying five areas in the UK that could become potential BTR hotspots for developers and investors, following continued growth for the sector throughout 2020.

Stoke-On-Trent, Norwich, Peterborough, Warrington, and Hull came out on top after rating highly against Wise Living’s research criteria. Its research focused on the rental market in each area, the rental availability per 100,000 of the population, government funding, and BTR investments in the planning stages, under construction or complete. It also considered the quality of education by Ofsted rating and the density of each location’s population.

Stoke came top of the list where its first BTR scheme, worth £22M is now underway in the Hanley area of the city. The research found it has 378 rental properties per 100,000 population and 36 good or outstanding rated places of education.

Norwich was rated second – with 365 rental homes per 100,000 population and access to more than 40 good or outstanding rated schools or colleges. The city was also awarded £25M in 2020 as part of the UK Government’s Town Deals funding which will help the city council realise its 2040 vision for the city and attract further investment for building homes in the area.

Paul Staley, Director at Wise Living, says the areas its research has identified may come as a surprise to some in the sector but that trends away from big city living make these locations good opportunities for developers and investors. He says;

“In 2020 there was a clear trend for suburban living. Rental demand in the bigger cities and town centres shrank due to the impact of the pandemic, which has led to more people working from home and not need to live close to work – instead, people have more freedom to choose where they live.

“It means renters searching for quality properties are now looking in the suburbs of smaller cities and towns where it is quieter, they have easier access to green space and quality education for their family. We saw this first-hand in 2020 with a number of our BTR developments, including in Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, where the first phase of our Old Brewery development was completely reserved online in a matter of weeks.

“That’s why the likes of Stoke-on-Trent, Norwich, and Hull are big opportunities for investors and developers looking to grow their portfolio in the BTR market.”

The latest available data for the UK BTR market makes for good reading. In Q3 of 2020, there were 37,000 units under construction and around 84,000 in planning in the UK – with over 90,000 estimated to have been in planning by the end of 2020. Despite the challenges last year, the market continued to show its resilience, and demand for quality rental homes across the UK remained high and is expected to throughout 2021.

Paul adds; “We won’t be surprised to see more BTR schemes brought forward in 2021 in areas like those identified in our research. We have plans to announce more BTR developments in suburban locations in the coming months, further to those we are already working on with our developer partners in Coventry, Wolverhampton, Rotherham, and Telford. Many of the current BTR schemes in the UK under construction or planning are apartment blocks in city and town centres  – this is why we will continue to focus on delivering quality homes to undersupplied suburban areas.”

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