The 17 minute conundrum
It’s safe to say that very few people enjoy their daily commute and, as the nights draw-in, the thought of a long commute feels even more bleak.
But given the choice, would aspiring homeowners take on a longer commute to get onto the property ladder? That’s exactly the question we posed to over 2,000 private renters across the UK as part of our series offering insight to landlords on the wants and needs of their tenants.
Our research found that overall, 75% of UK tenants would consider buying a property – but crucially, not if its location drastically increases their commute. On average, commuters will only consider switching from the private rented sector to homeownership if their journey time doesn’t increase by more than 17 minutes.
The study also explored exactly how private renters get to and from work. Across the UK, most drive to work alone – from a landlord’s perspective this highlights the importance of a property’s parking provision. Just over 25% of tenants take public transport to work. However, in London these figures change drastically with nearly 70% taking public transport to work and just 13% driving.
Today, the typical commute for private renters stands at exactly 30 minutes. London sees the longest average journey at 40 minutes while renters in the North East spend just 21 minutes travelling to work.
The clear reality is that today’s private tenants are, understandably, putting their busy lifestyle first.
If a tenant was truly desperate to get onto the ladder, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they might consider moving further ‘out’ – in short, increasing their commute by more than 17 minutes. But our research shows that just 10%of tenants would buy, crucially at no additional cost to their current rent, if their commute increased by 30 minutes or more. On top of that, just 6% of renters told us that they would buy with no regard to their commute.
This is hardly the language of tenants who are keen to own a property above all else.
We know from our previous research that more than 75% of all private tenants are happy renting and 40% of those are happy to remain renting forever. Flexibility and a desire to avoid the responsibilities associated with homeownership are key drivers behind these statistics.
So what does this mean for today’s landlord? Firstly, the assumption that buying a home is the be-all and end-all for renters is outdated. And crucially, people want their home to be flexible and appropriate to their lifestyle in today’s ‘always on’ world of work.
For aspiring landlords considering a buy-to-let property remember the old saying, ‘location, location, location.’ The value of being within easy distance of major employment hubs is clear. In addition, make sure the home has either good parking facilities and/or is near to good transport links. With those key elements in place, you’re in a good position to have happy tenants who are more likely to consider longer tenancies. What’s not to like about that?