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Having someone good to talk to on reception is crucial

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Mark Dawson
Mark Dawson
Director, Vita Group

“The people who operate our buildings are recruited from the retail and hospitality sectors, so that they have already learned the softer skills.”

Please tell us about Vita Group/Select Property Group 

Select has been operating since 2004, and we now operate in the UK’s strongest investment sectors through brands that achieve high yields and long-term capital growth.

Affinity Living is Select Property Group’s premium residential property brand. It builds high-quality apartments with excellent communal facilities in prime city centre locations. 

Vita Student by Vita Group is one of the UK’s leading purpose-built student property providers, with developments again located in the UK’s Russell Group university cities. 

And CitySuites by Vita Group operates serviced apartments with the service of a five-star hotel to create in prime UK city centre locations. 

We now have 6,000 units across a range of residential asset classes, with a further 4,500 in development. 

We started out by selling properties we developed, but they are now largely retained, meaning we have built up a sizeable investment portfolio. 

How does Select’s approach differ from others in your field? 

We create a quality product in quality locations. In the student accommodation world, we are behind premium developments. So, for example, in many schemes we have Mandarin-speaking hosts operating from our front desks to assist our Chinese student residents. We also run a full-service front desk with other features such as enhanced security, events and other lifestyle offerings. 

How are student trends evolving? 

What’s really important is to balance people’s twin wishes to be sociable, at the same time as being given the privacy and space they need to study. That’s a crucial balance we nowadays always try to achieve. 

Good quality communal rooms, including study rooms, are vital: not everyone wants to study alone in their bedroom. 

Just as people are increasingly congregating in co-working spaces, students also want to share public areas to read a book, listen to music or just chill.

We also pay attention to detail: what seems like a small thing, like offering pastries for a grab and go breakfast and good coffee is important to people. So are amenities like quality gyms with the latest equipment and personal trainers. 

Who do you recruit to operate your buildings? 

Having someone good to talk to on reception is crucial – you can’t just have someone there who is on the minimum wage and not feeling good about their role. They have to be enthused to make customers feel enthused. The people who operate our buildings are recruited from the retail and hospitality sectors, so that they have already learned the softer skills.

What’s your next move in the residential world? 

In terms of build-to-rent, there is a lot being built in some cities – particularly Manchester – but there is a housing shortage and if you come up with the right product at the right price people will do well in that market – this is why we are looking at a co-living product. 

Teenagers today who will be the renters of tomorrow see themselves as very different – that rental market is only going to grow as lifestyles continue to change.

For further insights please download our Urban Being: The Future of City Living Real Estate report.

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