Two young property entrepreneurs are using crowdfunding to attract new investors, amid an explosion in the number of young professionals seeking house-shares.
Andy Graham, 29, and Nick Morris, 31, are offering the public up to 15% of equity in their company Smart Property, which manages a selection of boutique properties catering to young, professional house sharers in the north of England and the Midlands.
The two graduates, both of whom shared houses as students, founded their business renting designer house-shares to professionals who can’t afford to buy their own properties after recognising a gap in the market. Smart Property is currently valued at two million pounds.
As the house-share sector balloons, Dragons Den-style crowdfunding is the best way to attract investors who are ready to sign up for this exciting, fast-paced business, according to Graham, who still lives in a house-share.
He says: “The number of young, professional house sharers is rapidly increasing in the UK, due to soaring property prices which prevent young people from getting on the property ladder, or even from renting their own flat or house.
“These young professionals go to work every day and do not want a shabby, student-style house share. They want to share with other young professionals in smart, clean, fashionable, tech-smart properties with all mod-cons.
“We at Smart Property collaborate with landlords to refurbish properties and ensure that this new generation of house-sharers gets exactly what they are looking for. The company is expanding at a phenomenal rate, and we are offering for the first time the opportunity for private investors to be a part of this with us.”
Around 4.5 million houses, or 20 per cent of properties in the UK, are now let out to house-sharers*, and estate agent Savills predicts that the house share market could account for an addition 1.1 million properties by 2021.
With rents for individual properties climbing to an average of £771 per month, some 43 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds in the UK are now living in a house share, according to Knight Frank*. Tenants renting with Smart Property pay an average of £375 all inclusive for a double room.
Yet while affordability is still a key issue, house-share tenants’ demands have increased. Thirty per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds move between rental house shares to ‘upgrade to a nicer property’; 75 per cent prefer a furnished property, and 62 per cent prefer to roll their bills up into one easy payment*.
Graham says: “We are unique in offering landlords guaranteed rent, while offering tenants high-tech heating and utilities; view today, move tomorrow procedures, and the ability to unify the rental cost into one single monthly payment that includes super fast broadband, Sky TV and semi-serviced living – which might include cleaning services or laundry collection.
“We are currently taking on one property a month, and turning others down because of our funding limitations. This is why we are inviting private investors to be part of our exciting first investment round, which will fund the refurbishment of 40 properties over the next 12 months. If successful, this will deliver fantastic profits by December 2017.”
Smart Property will open its crowdfunding pitch in August 2016 via the popular investment crowdfunding portal CrowdCube, where potential investors will have one month to invest.
However, Graham and Morris are urging investors to sign up quick. “How long it takes depends how quickly we raise our target of £300,000,” says Graham. “It could end well before the month is over!”
Graham and Morris are seeking £300,000 of equity finance to fund expansion over the next 12 months, and offering up to a 15 per cent share in the firm.
“Armed with more funding, we will be in a position to attract landlords en masse to our product, and marry our properties with the young professional letting market,” concludes Graham.