Size of US multi-family sector suggests UK build-to-rent has room to grow

UK build to rent has room to grow significantly in the next few years based on activity in the US, Ascend Properties has said.

In 2020 the multi-family sector – a dwelling with more than four residential units – made up 22.2% of new build completions in the US, compared to build-to-rent accounting for just 6.6% of new builds in the UK.

The build to rent sector is very much on the up in the UK, with completions rising from 8,329 in 2018 to 12,438 in 2019. They fell back slightly to 10,152 in 2020, likely as a result of the pandemic, thought they are expected to rebound to 11,723 in 2021.

After conducting the analysis build to rent firm Ascend Properties said UK build to rent could account for the same proportion of new builds as the US, if not more.

Ged McPartlin, managing director of Ascend Properties, said: “A comparison of the multi-family model and the build to rent sector isn’t quite comparing apples with apples, but the ethos is very much the same and so is the end result.

“Both focus on tailored accommodation that provides residents with a long-term option when renting and it’s clear that there is a very healthy appetite for this on both sides of the pond, as well as in many other countries.

“The multi-family market is a trillion-dollar business and accounts for more than a quarter of all real estate investment in the US. While we have quite some way to go in achieving this sort of dominance in the build to rent sector, the sharp growth seen in recent years suggests we are well on our way.

“For build to rent to account for 20% of all new build completions is actually very achievable and we believe that not only will this be obtained in the coming years, but the sector will go above and beyond this as more of us turn to long-term renting as a life choice.”

In the US, multi-family completions are estimated to top 327,718 units this year, a 19% jump when compared to 2018.

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