Property Investors - How to get started in Supported Living
I have written before about the advantages and challenges of investing in Supported Living and I am finding an increasing number of property investors are interested in it. People like the idea of investing in property while making a difference to vulnerable peoples lives. I am frequently asked how property investors can get started investing in Supported Living and so I thought I would put down my thoughts here.
In many ways, the best way would be for this to be needs led, you will find out what the demand is in an area and then will help this demand by developing a property to meet those needs.
How do you find out about local demand for Supported Living?
You need to find out what type of property is needed and where. Not just the town, but where exactly in that town? What type of facilities need to be nearby? You need to find out where the gaps are in your area for Supported Living. Is there a need for houses for young adults leaving the care system, or a real shortage of flats for people learning disabilities? You need to establish where and what the demand is.
It’s all about networking. Get out there and speak to everyone you can, about your desire to provide properties for Supported Living. Think about the people you know, friends and friends of friends, and work out if you know anyone who works in the voluntary sector, in housing, or do you know any health or care staff? Get in touch, buy them a coffee and find out who they work with and if they know of any shortfalls in housing provision in the area. They may well be able to connect you to other people or organisations locally. Find out who the organisations are locally with a good reputation, those who are innovative and dynamic.
Get involved in your community, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, food bank, community hospital or charity. This is a great way to understand how things work in your area, by talking to people and seeing things first hand you can find out where there is a local need. If you are particularly passionate about one area of Supported Living then be a bit more targeted about who you approach, however be aware that there are huge variations geographically across the country and where your interest lies may not be where the need is in your area.
Once you've identified demand, then you can start working to help. Finding the right people in your local authority takes time, you need to find the decision makers who will be able to authorise funding decisions. This can be hugely frustrating, as sometimes, those in power don’t see the same problems as those working on the ground, or they are constrained by budgetary or political factors that restrict their ability to make long term decisions. Working with the right organisations, who have already have done this groundwork and have established relationships with the decision makers, can smooth this process considerably.
Don’t be disheartened- this part can all take a lot of time, even for those with experience. Sadly it is often not a quick process and can require patience and determination. Keep focussed on your goal to help people and why you want to do this.
As a property person you are in a fantastic position to help. Your ability to create a 4 bed shared house from an empty 2 bed terraced house, or to see how to update and repurpose a tired property to a new bespoke home for someone with complex needs, is a skill many people don’t have. Once you get talking to people you will be surprised how in demand your skills are and how often the property is the missing piece of the jigsaw for many organisations.
If you haven’t already, you will need to find a care provider to work with and a registered provider of housing or a charity, to take the lease on your property.
Once this is all in place you can go about doing the ‘easy bit’ of finding the right property and getting it ready for its new supported living tenants.
I have a property and I would like to find Supported Living tenants for it
You may get lucky and be approached by someone who needs a property, you may have just the right one, in the right area. You can then get your property ready for its new tenants. However this doesn’t happen often, as you can see from above, finding the demand for Supported Living in your area, matching that to your property and then finding the right Care Providers and Registered Providers or Charities to work with is rarely easy.
That it can be hard for property people to get into this sector does not mean there is no need for Supported Living Properties. When I am talking to Registered Providers, Charities and Care Providers they are telling me how much demand there is, and how hard they are finding it to find good quality properties, and willing landlords and property investors to work with. There is enormous demand.