Housing expert, Mary-Anne Bowring, says now is time to invest in buy-to-let and calls for landlord stamp duty cut as a means to stimulate activity and boost supply.
Rental housing is likely to prove more resilient during this downturn than other real estate sectors such as retail and offices as people are more likely to rent rather than buy during a recession and rent is typically one of the last things a people will stop paying.
The number of renters was predicted to increase before the virus, as housing affordability and changes in lifestyle and the jobs market mean more people are renting and for longer. These fundamentals will remain post-virus.
Ringley brought forward the launch of its automated lettings platform PlanetRent in response to coronavirus as it allows landlords, agents and tenants to all transact remotely through its cloud-based system. Ringlet has invested over £2m in creating tech products for the residential market, including PlanetRent.
To stimulate housing market activity now the government has lifted some restrictions, and to supply more much needed rental homes, Mary-Anne of Ringley is urging the government to exempt landlords from the stamp duty surcharge on second homes.
A rise in buy-to-let investment could also help support housebuilding as landlords are an important source of development finance through off-plan sales that are necessary to get debt funding for construction.
Mary-Anne said: "There is a huge opportunity still for buy-to-let investors in the UK rental market, which is only predicted to grow in size. That's why institutional investors such as pension funds and insurers are investing billions in building homes for rent, as they see an opportunity to secure income-producing investments that hold up well during a downturn.
"Government efforts to restart the housing market should reflect long term pre-existing trends and that includes the continued growth in private renting. If the government wants to kill two birds with one stone - boost activity in the housing market and provide much needed rental homes - it should exempt landlords from the second home stamp duty surcharge immediately.
"However, proptech is evolving lettings fast as tenants must be seen as customers and the expectation is a frictionless, fully loaded experience, including immediate service which automation allows. It is important that buy-to-let landlords learn from institutional landlords to not fall behind the latest trends."