Will Ireland’s Emerging BTR Sector Embrace Branding?

Last month, industry news source Bis Now published an article titled ‘What If Residential Real Estate Embraced Branding?’ It presented an interesting take on new ways to create value through property development.

While this was an admittedly UK perspective, it would be short-sighted to think that Irish consumers will expect less.  In fact, we know that since the crash, all consumers of property – whether they are home buyers or sellers, private or institutional investors, or indeed tenants of residential or commercial property – all consumers of property are concerned about what is being built, using what materials and by whom, in a way that they never were before.

Recent high-profile tragedies in the UK have driven this agenda forward at a faster pace than we have seen here in Ireland, however, this is a very real issue facing the next generation of property developers in Ireland.

Branding is not something that has been a huge consideration for the construction industry and even for property developers.  We see this most acutely through the placemaking process, where project developers are more likely not to want to draw attention to a proposed new development – that likely explains why we have gotten by for so long with our A4 planning notices flapping on the side of hoardings, exposed to the elements and not really consulting or engaging with the public.  In the good old days, this was the estate agents job. We knew those days were numbered, it is fair to suggest that they are now gone.

As the build-to-rent market evolves in Ireland, branding is likely to play an increasing role in helping project proposers to compete for the best sites and to negotiate the most favourable lending terms. But this is just the start of it. Setting the right organisational and project tone will be one of the vital keys to overcoming costly planning objections, which – according to figures published by the Sunday Independent last month – add 10% to the overall project cost, or more specifically, these objections can add an average of €11,500 to the cost of a new home in South Dublin.  When we look at these figures, suddenly branding moves from being a ‘nice to have’ for property developers, to a commercial imperative.

Looking at the most recent developments, not necessarily built, but acquired by international organisations, it is clear that the optics are not left to chance; they are well thought-out and strategically executed. Are Irish operators thinking of projects in these terms yet? Are we still thinking of public consultation as a tick-the-box exercise rather than an opportunity to create better places, quicker?

It will be interesting to see when the cultural shift – that has already started – will start to spread across the industry in Ireland. Brendan Geraghty of Geraghty Taylor is betting on this being a key differentiator for his organisation, in fact, he is quoted in the article above as saying that “branding before building” is the organisation’s watchword for 2019.

Ian Lawlor
086 3625482

Director / Business Development
Lotus Investment Group