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DORMA+KABA Holding AG

03/13/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/13/2024 06:28

Why Flex Living Is Changing the Rules of the Real Estate Market

The terms that define the new ways of living are becoming increasingly outdated. Co-living, corporate living, senior living… Beyond the words lies a new citizen profile with distinct housing needs: prioritizing services, time flexibility, and the demands of a changing, dynamic lifestyle.

There is a clear new trend in the way we use cars. We no longer purchase them; instead, we pay for their use, tailoring the type of vehicle and contract to meet our needs. Similarly, a new housing model in which adaptability is a priority is beginning to emerge with great force.

This housing trend is called 'flex living', and it is an alternative solution that integrates the flexibility of physical space with aspects such as sustainability, technology and the benefits of community connection. 

Why a Real Estate Paradigm Shift is Needed 

The rise of flex living is tied to significant demographic shifts and changes in the workforce, impacting the real estate market as profoundly as the shortage of available space in large population centers and the continuous increase in prices.

The 2008 crisis marked the beginning, yet it was the COVID pandemic that crucially transformed people's lifestyles. E.g., a study by MBO Partners reveals that the number of 'digital nomads', those freelancers associated with the tech world that are characterized by their working mobility, has been growing steadily since 2020 in the United States: From 11 million during that year to an estimated 16.9 million in 2022.

In addition, according to a publication by the real estate company CBRE, single-family homes in Europe have grown by 10% in the last 10 years. And the percentage of people between the ages of 30 and 45 living in rented accommodation has increased by more than 50%.  

The latest edition of the European Living Investor, issued by the Knight Frank consulting firm, highlights that 78% of investors plan to increase their flex living portfolio, up to a value of 22.3 billion dollars.

For Aaron Lee, CEO of Dash Living, a new generation of serviced rental solutions located in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Australia, most markets in the Asia-Pacific region are affected by a scenario that combines complicated landlords, long lease terms and rising living costs. The situation is even more delicate in cities like Hong Kong, which is right now one of the most expensive in the world to live in. Among other things, "because of underutilization of facilities and inefficiency, since most of the city's buildings do not share facilities or operations," as Aaron Lee states.

Particularly notable is the situation in Australia, where the government has had to adjust to the evolving real estate landscape, introducing new measures to address housing affordability issues amid rising interest rates and soaring prices.

It is a fact that the traditional housing model is in an inevitable process of change. The future lies in rethinking housing design and making it efficient, affordable and adaptable to changing urban and social needs. Innovative proposals that include everything from temporary, tourist accommodation to residential complexes for independent senior citizens. In other words, solutions that target different population niches.

Simplifying Life, Improving the Experience 

Flex living situates services and flexibility at the heart of the housing design strategy, aiming for a seamless experience where there's nothing left to worry about.

The first idea that connects with this experience is the design of the spaces. In flex living, there is no fixed structure. The rooms are open-plan, modular, and equipped with multifunctional furniture and creative storage solutions. They can be transformed and reconfigured as needed, using movable panels or folding furniture to adapt to the space needs of their inhabitants, whether it's because the family is growing, or you need an extra work area that can be converted into a bedroom when the night comes.

But we are not only talking about flexible spaces; we are also talking about flexible buildings: a building that can adapt to other possible uses and layouts in the future will become an enduring asset over time. 

A Sustainable Community

In this type of building, sustainability becomes a key element to ensure energy efficiency, waste reduction and conservation of natural resources. By integrating sustainable practices into their design and operation, the ecological footprint is considerably reduced. The use of low-consumption plant species, solar panels or electric recharging points not only minimizes their environmental impact, but also improves the quality of life of their users.

The integration of common areas and shared areas promotes social interaction and tenants' well-being. According to the Flexible Living Trend Report 2023, 77% of its inhabitants use the common areas, and 58% consider the proximity to their neighbors as an enriching factor that they did not have in their previous homes. 

These amenities encompass landscaped spaces, sports areas with personal trainers, yoga rooms, gyms, screening rooms, cafeterias, and even pet areas, all intended to foster socialization and interaction among residents. Complementing these are coworking spaces, meeting rooms, and areas for exhibitions and events, enabling tenants to collaborate, share value, and market their own services.

Driving Comfort Through Smart Tech 

The third big idea behind the flex living experience is the integration of advanced technology, which is based on these three pillars:

  • intelligent home automation
  • access solutions and remote monitoring
  • security systems

Devices in the home can now be controlled via an app or online platform, managing aspects like temperature and lighting, as well as overseeing smart appliances. This not only leads to significant resource savings -and thus cost reductions- but also enhances residents' comfort.

The idea is to make life as easy as possible for tenants, owners and managers, also using technology-based solutions which enable actions such as paying rent, requesting repairs, booking fitness classes, or authorizing visits. Of course, ensuring that these connected systems are regularly updated according to the manufacturer's specifications becomes a top priority. This is crucial not only for preventing vulnerabilities but also for safeguarding payment transactions and personal data against cybercrime.

The most crucial solution is a centralized online system that manages access to homes and common areas. This system enables remote and efficient control over the entry of tenants, workers, or the booking and access to meeting rooms, acting as a digital key and providing enhanced comfort and security for its users.

To close the loop, various security systems, including camera equipment and intelligent sensors, are tasked with ensuring the neighbors' peace of mind.

And for tenants with specialized requirements, such as those in senior living arrangements, the addition of assistive technologies or health services, including physiotherapy and medical care, is essential.