Clint Bartman has recently been appointed as Managing Director of Asset Management at Strawberry Star Group and will be leading their Build to Rent division. This week, our Build to Rent specialist Martha Kiernan spoke to Clint about all things Multifamily, Student Accommodation and Strawberry Star.
MK: You had a long career in property in the US before moving to the UK in 2013, what do you feel is the main difference between US Multifamily and UK Build to Rent?
CB: The main difference is that in the UK, there is still a social stigma to being a property renter. In the US, the stigma has diminished over time. Americans now move from one state to another many times in their lives. This has created a large population of people that choose to remain mobile as a lifestyle. The Multifamily sector grew, and continues to grow, out of the rental demand created by these people.
This social stigma in the UK is diminishing quickly as well. People are choosing to remain mobile as a lifestyle. The BTR sector is being developed to take advantage of this growing demand.
MK: What can we learn from the US?
CB: If the UK can learn anything from the US, it would be that customer service is not about giving money back to a customer for something that went bad. Customer service is about understanding the needs of a customer and anticipating these needs before the customer even knows they need them.
MK: Before joining Strawberry Star, you lead the operations for some major Student Accommodation providers, why did you make the move into BTR?
CB: Operationally, PBSA and BTR are very similar. I moved to BTR as the sector’s growth prospect is massive compared to PBSA and I like working in the excitement and chaos that ensues when a new sector is emerging in a market.
On a personal level, one advantage of BTR operations is that you regain your sanity in the months of June – September. In PBSA, the summer months blur together as the student / tenancy turnover seems to never end and the mad letting rush in the end of summer from international students is always a challenge.
MK: Has anything surprised you about working in BTR?
CB: I’m surprised that traditional letting agents are still used by some BTR operators. It’s been proven in the US, and in the UK by PBSA operators, that a consumer brand approach with proactive social marketing will generate lettings and develop loyal customers. This can all be done online at a fraction of the cost to a business of using a traditional letting agent.
Also, I’m surprised that more councils are not seeking BTR buildings to be built in their communities. BTR schemes will likely be the most serviced and safest buildings in their communities, where local affluent people live and spend their money. BTR schemes can bring employment and stability to a community.
MK: What do you look for in a candidate when you hire for your team?
CB: When I look for candidates on my team, I look for individuals with integrity who execute. To use driving a car as an analogy, I look for candidates who drive instead riding along and when they get caught speeding, they admit “I was speeding”.
MK: What can we expect to see from Strawberry Star in the future?
CB: Strawberry Star has formed a team of like-minded global leaders and we’re executing growth plans that constantly excite us. As an end-to-end real estate service provider, we’re aspiring to develop real estate products that provide our customers safe, secure homes with exemplary service. When you see the name Strawberry Star on a development, it will be a fresh approach to the area that will not disappoint its investors or its customers.
If you want to learn more about Strawberry Star visit www.strawberrystar.com and while you are there ,check out our amazing current developments Bronze in Wandsworth and Lu2on in Luton.