Five predictions for the future of residential property rental

The global upheaval caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has seen a spike in the adoption of technology by the mass market
The global upheaval caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has seen a spike in the adoption of technology by the mass market

The global upheaval caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has seen a spike in the adoption of technology by the mass market.

Remote working and video conference meetings have become the norm – literally overnight – as the clock ticked over into government-imposed lockdown.

And placing orders and making purchases via app have become an essential, rather than a luxury, making it the new normal.

In the property world, traditional real estate firms had been shedding jobs and cutting back dramatically in the face of the restrictions which had, effectively, made traditional property viewings impossible.

This resulted in proptech changing the way people let and rent residential property, forever – and effectively created a new global rental industry.

Gil Sperling, co-founder and chief executive of proptech platform Flow, said there were five ways in which the property market would be fundamentally different post-lockdown.

Housing will always be a human need

“Housing is a basic need and one of the true essentials for everyone in any economy. After food, shelter comes next on the hierarchy of human needs, so the fundamental demand for housing cannot be eliminated – it’s only a question of pricing,” he said. “Even though it’s likely that there might be fewer people moving for the next couple of months, we believe that once the worst part of the pandemic is over, people will have to start moving again.”

Working from home will change housing needs

As the concept of working from home had been so easily adopted across so many industries, Sperling said there would be more of the global workforce continuing to do so after the pandemic.

“For a few of us, this switch has been easy to manage as we have the right setup at home – but many people simply do not have space in their homes to work quietly without being distracted by children or their partners.

“This will lead to many tenants looking for larger homes that give them the space they need to create a more sustainable live-work environment for themselves and their families.”

Renting will be ‘safer’ than buying

Sperling said that buying a property was a long-term decision and often the biggest investment decision in a buyer’s life.

“The uncertainty created by the virus means that many potential homeowners will decide to continue to rent, in the interests of maintaining flexibility during these troubled times,” he said. “This might also provide an opportunity for landlords who are looking to capitalise on the shift towards renting.”

Renters will make changes to help make ends meet

Many people would either have been retrenched or had their salaries reduced as a knock-on effect of lockdown.

“With housing costs representing the biggest slice of many budgets, it’s the first place people will look to create household savings,” said Sperling. “They might not need to live as close to work as they used to, which could mean they might start to look at living further away from the middle of the city, where rentals are often cheaper on bigger pieces of land.”

The rental market will be flooded

The way the pandemic had brought global travel to a halt had a massive effect on many industries, but tourism was one of the most heavily affected.

“South Africa, alone, is reported to have more than 50 000 Airbnb hosts and they will naturally look for other ways to generate revenue from these properties in future, which is leading them back to long-term rentals,” said Sperling.

“This is going to create an oversupply in the global rental market, which is going to put downward pressure on prices. This oversupply is good news for tenants as it offers the opportunity to find cheaper accommodation, gives them a great opportunity to find more value and even grow into bigger spaces.

“The world is going to be fundamentally different in a post-Covid-19 world and it’s up to innovators to develop technology-driven solutions to help humanity adapt to the new order,” said Sperling.

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