Co-living approaches this task by tailoring the property and its management to the needs and preferences of a specific demographic group, in addition to doing so professionally and on a large scale. What distinguishes co-living from other rentals is that property is owned and operated by professional, large-scale companies. According to industry experts such as investors and developers, operational real estate, including student housing, retirement living and co-living, are among the asset classes with the highest prospects in Europe for 2020. By optimizing space, operational real estate might as well be one of the solutions to the overwhelming housing demand in densely populated cities like London. There are three main segments at a different development stage in the operational residential market: purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), build-to-rent (BTR), and elderly care.
In the United Kingdom (UK), over one third of people rent their dwelling, with a high share of them living in dense urban areas. The UK is also one of the top student destinations worldwide, making this asset class especially attractive for both developers and investors. PBSA is housing built especially for students and aiming to address their specific housing needs – a combination of private space and shared facilities with good value for money. There are different unit types such as clustered flats, en suite, not en suite and studios. In 2019, the ten largest private PBSA operators operated a total of 235 thousand beds, with Unite Students, UPP and IQ leading the ranking.
Among the three segments, elderly care has the largest market value at 121 billion British pounds. With an increasingly aging population, it is safe to say that this asset class has immense potential. Elderly care involves assisted living, which is more suitable for adults who are mostly independent, but could use help in day-to-day tasks such as dressing, washing, doing laundry or taking medicine. The second type of elderly care facilities are nursing homes, which offer 24-hour medical care. In 2019, there were nearly 16 thousandresidential care homes in the UK.
The third and youngest asset class is Build-to-Rent (BTR). It includes multi-family buildings with flats or single houses, often coming with a range of benefits such as concierge service, communal spaces, gyms, and other facilities. Though it is gaining traction, BTR is still considered a niche market. In the last quarter of 2019, there were 40 thousand completed BTR homes in the UK, half of them in London.