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Building trust is key to unlocking the potential of the London property market

Steven Hiltermann (pictured), general manager, Badi UK

The rental market is booming. The attractiveness of our urban centres with their diversity, entertainment and professional services continues to increase. In fact, in 2016 the number of renters in London exceeded homeowners for the first time and it’s projected that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

Yet our sprawling cities are short of the housing supply needed to match demand. Not only is renting for longer appealing to young professionals, but those in their 30s and 40s are realising the benefits of living a life without ties, such as the permanence of a house and mortgage, increasingly by choice.

ONS data from 2018 revealed that over 10 million UK renters are over the age of 45 years old, and research conducted by Censuswide last year revealed that a quarter (26%) of flat sharers now sharing property are over the age of 45 years old.

Being mortgage free means you have more freedom to travel and to explore opportunities to work anywhere in the world. It means there is also healthy demand for living spaces in London from cities the world over, compounded by the fact that technology is making it possible to source a room from anywhere, without needing to be present in the city you’re looking to live.

Yet, this chronic shortfall in supply has increased competition between tenants and put the power firmly in the hands of landlords. While the majority of landlords are getting it right, it only takes a few rogue landlords to give the industry a bad name. As a result, trust has become a big issue.

The challenges with trust go both ways, of course. It’s essential for landlords to find tenants that will respect their property and, to make the rental property financially viable, stay for a decent length of time.

Advances in technology are helping to solve both of these challenges.

Badi, the leading room rental marketplace, is using AI to recommend the most compatible tenants and landlords and put them in touch before a tenant books a property. This enables both parties to be confident that they’ve found the right fit.

The platform enables the entire booking process to be completed online, from searching for properties, to meeting flat seekers and landlords, to paying and processing payments securely. Badi holds payments made by flat seekers for 24 hours in order to give the tenant time to confirm they’re happy with the space. This ultimately gives them peace of mind that their money is secure.

Seekers and landlords can start up conversations about the available property, and room requests can be sent and accepted at the click of a button. This removes the need for a costly visit to a new city to conduct multiple viewings before signing on the dotted line.

Clever sorting algorithms allow Badi users to be confident in the properties that are being recommended to them. Properties that have been verified by Badi rank higher in searches on Badi’s platform. A Badi representative visits a property in person to confirm the listing and take photos of the space. After this process has been completed, the property has officially been verified.

Not only does this help to ensure the quality of the properties that are on the site, it helps the user feel confident that what they see is exactly what they are going to get. Improvements to this sorting algorithm are being made regularly, to ensure that the process can be continually optimised.

For landlords and property owners, this means improved efficiency – Badi has been able to double the percentage of booking requests on its platform and the latest updates to the sorting algorithm have reduced the time between a room being listed and booked by nearly a third (30%).

Technology has a huge role to play in helping the industry to build trust by improving transparency. The ability to improve and evolve the likes of AI algorithms means this is just the beginning.

Key to helping to meet the huge demand for rooms in our big cities is to match those seeking a new place to call home with supply on the market, quickly and effectively. Having the best chance of ensuring a tenant is happy in their choice and therefore stays longer, is vital.