What Do American Property Trends Mean for UK Property Developers?

5 Residential Trends That the UK Is Likely to Import

Property trends often dictate the types of property that UK property developers build. Often, these trends evolve from the shifting needs of residents and homebuyers. By understanding these trends as they take shape, developers are likely to build the homes that people want in the locations they want to live in. This should help to boost profits.

Will UK Residents Follow US Habits?

They say that if America catches a cold, the rest of the world sneezes. When we look at the real estate market in the United States, there are some trends that seem likely we’ll be following here in the UK. In fact, we’re already copying what US property developers are doing.

A few years ago, co-living was the reserve of student accommodation and HMOs. Now, developers are building co-living towers in every city in the UK. Further specialisation in property development is likely, such as providing housing for seniors and pensioners. What other property trends are we onboarding in the UK – or likely to?

1.    People Want Work/Life Balance

It’s not only work that is causing people to question their work/life balance. Their homes are, too. People want to live where work is only a few minutes away and leisure amenities are available for them on their timetables.

We tend to think of these locations as city centre, but in the United States, suburban communities are embracing the 24-hour lifestyle. You might expect the city that never sleeps to be open all day and all night, but smaller towns and cities are jumping on board. If you live in New Jersey, Hoboken, Brooklyn or Maplewood, life is stretching to a 24-hour experience. It’s no longer necessary to travel into NYC to enjoy the night.

Developers are helping this happen by building blocks in suburbs that include restaurants, shops and other leisure units.

2.    Global Warming Requires Cooling

The world is warming up, and that means people want to cool down. Air conditioning is on the list of priorities for residents, especially in cities where summer humidity can be stifling. We have recently experienced some of the warmest weather on record, and it looks likely that the years to come could be even warmer. Air conditioning is a plus point for many – even if it is used only a few months of the year.

3.    Homebuyers and Investors Are Increasingly Ethically Conscious

Homebuyers and investors want to buy green properties. They want to know that they are doing their bit for the world without joining the ranks of Extinction Rebellion and joining in a hippie rain dance routine in central London. This means they want properties that are built with green materials and to high energy efficiency standards. They also want to buy from developers that have high business ethics – hot on health and safety, wary of waste management, clear of corruption.

4.    Smart Youngsters Want Smart Homes

Younger renters and homebuyers want smart homes. They want connected homes. Broadband bandwidth is increasingly important. People are more likely to work remotely, and entertainment is streamed digitally. Who watches standard television today? Why buy hundreds of CDs when it is possible to stream any music from Spotify or iTunes?

The digitally adept generation also want homes that they can monitor and control remotely. They want to be able to turn their heating on and off from afar, watch their front door 24/7, and benefit from lighting and heating that automatically adjusts to their presence.

5.    Younger Residents Are Suburb Bound

It is not only greater provision of 24/7 services in suburbs that are attracting younger residents. For the fourth year running, the United States Census Bureau data has shown that American cities are losing their young people. Millennials and Gen Xers are moving out to the suburbs. The factors that are encouraging this include:

  • Cost of living – it’s much cheaper to buy or rent, and live in the suburbs
  • The length of time waiting to step onto the housing ladder
  • By the time younger people are financially able to buy, they have children and need bigger suburban homes
  • The desire to live in less polluted environments
  • Centres of technical excellence are often outside major city centres

We’re already seeing this happening in some parts of the UK. London, for example, may still be the UK city of choice for many, but recent figures show that nett migration out of the city is growing.

The outward migration from London is also being encouraged by businesses that are relocating to cheaper cities like Birmingham and Manchester – though, according to a Hamptons International report last year, even these cities witnessed a net outward migration in recent years.

Young people are moving to outer city suburbs and commuter towns.

The Trend Is Your Friend

There is a saying in investment markets. It says that the trend is your friend. You’ll make money by following trends.

Some of the trends we’ve highlighted above are well entrenched in the United States. Some are gaining traction in the UK. Others have yet to hit. Property developers that remain awake to these trends are likely to build the properties that people want to live in – the properties that our investor clients are keen to buy. To connect with them, connect with us – call the team on  +44 207 923 6100.

Live with passion

Brett Alegre-Wood

Brett Alegre-Wood
November 1, 2019

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