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Lettings agents should embrace Build To Rent, urges PropTech chief

The chief of a PropTech firm says letting agents should consider participating in the growing Build to Rent sector. 

Until now, many agents and trade bodies have been hostile to the sector, which has shown impressive growth in recent months; last week we reported on a new report from the British Property Federation and Savills revealing 117,893 BTR units across all stages of the development lifecycle, compared to 90,761 at this time last year. 

The BPF expects the sector to hit 250,000 units by 2030 at the latest with two of the largest operators, Grainger and Legal & General, boating investment programmes of £850m and £1 billion respectively.

“It’s clear from these figures that Build to Rent is a serious proposition with big financial backing from respected industry names,” says Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of the automated transaction platform PayProp in the UK.

“Now could be the right time for agents to consider how they could use the growth of this sector to their advantage,” says Cobbold, who suggests some far-thinking agents have already seen opportunities to get involved.

“It has opportunity for new partnerships. Whether that’s positioning yourself as a rental market expert, offering advice to institutional investors, building beneficial relationships with developers and management companies or sourcing land and finding tenants, there are plenty of options” insists Cobbold.

“The agents that don’t shy away from Build to Rent and look to be early-adopters could benefit the most and get access to the best opportunities,” he adds.

He says that following the latest English Housing Survey, which revealed in January that the private rental sector now accounts for a fifth of all households and is already the largest tenure in London, it’s clear that private renting is more important than ever to Britain’s housing landscape.

“The Build to Rent sector could be integral in providing affordable rental homes for the nation’s growing population of private renters,” says Cobbold.

“With no signs that the growth of tenant demand is going to let up any time soon, agents who involve themselves with BTR could be presented with more professional opportunities, come into contact with a higher number of tenants and make their business a valuable part of the nation’s housing future,” he concludes.

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