Property has always been a good investment. But the world is changing and our motivations and types of investment are changing too.
More and more experienced property investors are pointing the way forward, such as Andrew Nisbet and family whose Trust is funded through property, Peter Allen of Ethical Property, and Homes For Good founder Susan Aktemel.
As we become more ethically and socially aware, it’s worth taking note of these trends when we make our next property investment.
Using some or all of the profits for a good cause
Property investing doesn’t always have the best reputation, especially in the residential market. Stories of bad landlords, poorly equipped and maintained properties and rent increases are the staple fodder for the media. However, anyone who’s a property investor themselves knows that these are the rare exceptions not the rule in this marketplace. The vast majority of investors care about their tenants and do everything they can to ensure their properties are in great condition.
But there is a slow move towards taking things one step further and ploughing the profits back into the community. One London-based social entrepreneur and founder of Give It All Away has taken this as far as it can go. Charlotte Grobien has given all the proceeds of her property investing, more than £1.7m to date, away to some 20 charities that support teenagers and children.
Charlotte is an inspirational figure who proves that you can build a property portfolio from scratch, and do good at the same time: “I’ve never worked in the property industry but, following a complicated extension on our own house […], I decided I could be quite good at it.” It’s safe to say that Charlotte is exceptionally good at it.
Affordable Housing & Community Building Projects
Invest in affordable housing and community building projects. As house prices rise, the need for affordable homes becomes more acute, especially in the UK.
Figures indicate that the average British house price is some eight times the average annual income, and while affordable home building has increased a little over the last few years, there is still a huge unmet demand. This had led to a rise in the number of social housing investment funds.
The lack of affordable housing points to another area that is also seeing growth: the building and development of community facilities. The Ethical Property Company is a pioneer in this sector. One of the largest social enterprises in the UK, and Australia, it currently has a portfolio of 21 centres that provide office space, meeting rooms, retail and event spaces for social organisations. Always on the lookout for new investors, this kind of innovative business is helping local communities build capacity and offers investors a way to make a difference through property.
New Focus On The High Street & Regeneration
Over the last few years, it’s become clear that parts of the UK especially are in desperate need of regeneration and renewal. For a couple of decades, this regeneration has focused on residential areas but there is now a growing interest in how individual or small collectives of property investors can transform other areas of our towns and cities such as high streets and market halls.
The town centre is the heart of the community but our local brick-and-mortar retail stores have had a tough time with the huge increase in competition from online shopping. However, recently there has been a change in attitude and some smaller town centres are starting to attract property investors who want to work with the community to help turn their towns around.
The UK government is also keen to support new investment and recently launched a Future High Streets Fund with the aim of helping organisations and property investors reinvigorate town centres. Many old market halls across the UK have already been upgraded, and now is definitely a good time to think about investing in commercial property in these locations.
With the right advice and research, individual property investors can capitalise on our changing consumer habits, and support our small towns at the same time. We’re seeing an increase in the numbers of shoppers who want to discover new independent brands and stores and visit food and craft markets, and this behavioural change has only just begun.
Property investing is changing and it’s more exciting and rewarding than ever. Next time you’re looking for a new property purchase, think outside the box and follow the trends.
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