Has Lockdown Changed Priorities for Modern Renters?
If there’s been one unexpected side-effect of lockdown, it’s that the priorities of modern renters are changing rapidly, as many tenants currently re-evaluate their living situation.
Not being able to see family members, not being able to visit friends and converting to the ‘new way’ of working have all been expected challenges, but many people have also struggled with spending more time than ever at home.
This situation brings with it its own difficulties – couples are suddenly both working from the same space, conference calls are being taken in the kitchen and outdoor areas are more in-demand than ever.
What lockdown has highlighted for many is the importance of space and quality when it comes to their accommodation, particularly if they’re living in a city-centre apartment or something similar.
Even prior to lockdown, the rental market seemed to be trending towards a more European model – where people rent for longer, typically because of the flexibility that renting can offer.
At the same time, more and more developers are looking to create ‘amenity-led’ developments, providing attractive additions such as electric car parking, gyms, workspaces and other helpful facilities that help them stand out in the market.
The emergence of Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown has only accelerated this change in culture.
Tenant priorities have shifted and we are increasingly seeing tenants willing to pay more for the amenities that add a new dimension to their accommodation. Outdoor spaces, for example, are expected to be much more desirable in the market according to a recent survey of property professionals by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Within the report, 81% of respondents highlighted that outdoor spaces such as balconies and communal gardens will demand a higher premium in the market, while 74% predict an increase in demand for properties near green areas such as parks.
Back to Work
‘Work from Home’ culture is one of the biggest contributors to these changing priorities. Many people used to working 9 – 5 from the office have suddenly found themselves spending all of that time at home, which itself has highlighted the importance of several factors.
First is the size and quality of the interiors that they’re spending all their time in. More than ever, tenants are looking for bigger rooms and better appliances within those rooms.
While a one-bed apartment may have been suitable for a single couple before this change in working culture, market trend data suggests these same tenants are now seeking larger properties such as 2-bedroom apartments – nearly 49% of renters in a Rightmove survey highlighted how lockdown has led to the desire for a bigger home.
This brings up another challenge – internet access and other amenities. For those working-from-home, internet access has become the ‘third utility’, almost as vital as the standard bills you’d expect to pay. While broadband access is relatively widespread, the quality of these connections can vary wildly, particularly in busy city-centres.
Developments that can offer quality internet access – or even better, built-in working facilities such as a communal workspace – are finding themselves more popular than ever. These amenities generally offer tenants working remotely a ‘change of scenery’, alongside the obvious productivity benefits.
Still on Track
All this aside, there’s nothing to suggest that despite changes to working culture, there’s less value being placed on transport links or commuter amenities. Both of these factors are still critical signposts for investors, especially in areas such as Slough and other commuter towns with easy access to London.
Nationwide research has shown that properties closer to a transport link such as a train station typically attract a higher premium than those further away. In their data, properties that are 250m away from a station attract a 9.4% premium, while those that are 1,250m away only attract a 1.6% premium.
This is what makes properties such as The Metalworks in Slough such an attractive prospect. While it’s well-placed to serve the local professionals that may work in or around Slough, it’s also under 200m from a train station, which puts it at an incredible premium compared to other developments across the town.
Having such close proximity to London transport links means it’s a win-win – investors can find better value, higher growth and typically attract professional tenants while the residents themselves are practically 18-minutes from London, whether they’re working in the capital or simply looking to go there during downtime.
Similarly, with Crossrail on the horizon, these links will only be improved, placing Slough closer to other key destinations across the London Commuter Belt while reducing travel times and passenger loads.
This idea of ‘amenity-led’ developments is important to remember going forward. Tenants are increasingly looking to find a balance between affordability and high-quality living areas (preferably with all of the mod-cons), something investors should keep in mind when choosing a development.
For example, if your investment can offer outdoor areas such as balconies or even a communal garden, you’re already supporting one of the top priorities for modern renters.
In terms of location, as more people look for flexible renting in affordable developments outside of the expensive London bubble, somewhere like Slough is ideal – offering a proximity to a key area but providing much better value for money.
Within Slough, a development such as the Metalworks represents the high-quality living you’d expect from a high-end London postcode at a fraction of the cost. Just two minutes from the train station and comprising spacious apartments built with quality at every turn, The Metalworks is an ideal alternative to the capital.
A range of property units offer the flexibility to suit any investment strategy, while the size and build quality of each apartment guarantees one of the highest standards of living in the area, ensuring The Metalworks stands out from the crowd with potential tenants.