If you build it – to rent it – they will come


Cor Blimey! A build to rent property in London’s East End

Seems like there is hope on the horizon for those apartment dwellers whose incomes can’t run to owning in this ever climbing property market. The recent survey by Woolcott Research and Engagement into Airbnb attitudes in the community found a huge disparity in who rents, who owns and their respective attitudes to Airbnb.

The numbers told more than just who wants Airbnb and who doesn’t. For starters, a whopping 68 per cent of renters are under 35 years old, while an even larger share of owner occupiers are over 35, at 74 per cent. As you can imagine, more renters were in favour of letting a room on one of the sharing websites, keen to supplement their low incomes and offset their high rents.

As most renters are ‘millennials’ it can put them at odds with the owner occupiers in the same block. The owners want to cut down on their body corporate fees by not heating the outdoor pool in winter, and manage their environment and aesthetics by forbidding balcony smokers or the drying of laundry visible from the street, the very things renters see as penny pinching control freakery.

Help is at hand for renters and low income apartment dwellers from the private sector, where the smart thinkers are always looking for a way to make money from a need. The Australian reports that International property consultant, Knight Frank has launched a new residential investments division to focus on the burgeoning build-to-rent sector , as the prospect of institutionally owned rental housing begins to gain momentum here in Australia.

Just like Coca Cola and sweetening everything with corn syrup, America is taking the lead, showing the world what can be achieved with capitalism,  catering to tastes and setting the right price point. There are an estimated 25 million homes in build-to-rent or multi-family apartment blocks as they are known in the US.

I don’t want to get anyone over excited, but if local developers follow the US model you could expect your affordable apartment to be in a building that features not just the standard gym and swimming pool but extra attractions from bike workshops to pet spas and doggy daycare.

Now being the USA this level of service is paid for by the renter being charged separately on top of the rent for garbage collection and other utilities but if the same model is used here, the company will have to make it affordable otherwise they’ll get no income stream from it. In the US, this level of lifestyle has resulted in brand loyalty to the companies owning and running the apartment blocks, a real incentive to keep tenants happy. As part of the inescapable financial merry go round we all live on these days, your very own superannuation fund may invest in the building you are renting, so at least you’ll feel that your rent is not the cliched “dead money”.

Students never had it so good

The model is already partially established in Australia in the specialist student accommodation market under the Iglu brand, which has apartment blocks in Sydney and Brisbane with a Melbourne property coming on the market soon. It’s part owned by Macquarie Capital, a company that knows a thing or two about investment.

These properties offer studio, one bedroom or shared apartments and have facilities that suit the student lifestyle, such as wifi data inclusions, Foxtel, study rooms, cinema rooms, tvs, playstation and bike storage rooms.

Meanwhile, in the Australian build to rent market, Macquarie are working with a US real estate giant to build thousands of apartments. Liv by Mirvac has plans for a project at Sydney Olympic park and Salta Properties will be developing in Docklands in Melbourne.


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