Local is a new build to rent platform designed to provide sustainable housing at an attainable price within an inclusive community for residents. An initiative of property executives Matt Berg and Dan McLennan with funding from Macquarie Asset Management, Local aims to create positive change in the Australian rental housing market by integrating impact housing, targeting zero carbon emissions and providing a high quality living experience through additional amenity, tenant services and professional on-site management..

Local intends to offer a better alternative to the current rental market for those choosing to rent for longer or as a more flexible and secure alternative to home ownership. The targeted impact housing component across all Local projects is focussed on three groups – key workers such as nurses and hospitality workers, people living with a disability, and women over the age of 55 who are at risk of homelessness.

Traditionally, impact housing is segregated within developments with residents having no access to building amenities. This is something the new platform is looking to improve upon, Local co-CEO and founder Matt Berg explains.

“We’ve been involved in build-to-rent housing and adjacent sectors for several years and we’re excited about the vision of providing a better rental experience for renters. That said, we saw a real gap in the Australian market for a platform which not only delivered quality housing and commercial returns, but also actively embraced the opportunity to deliver genuine impact and inclusion.”

“Our ambition is to provide positive and sustainable outcomes for our residents and communities that incorporate wellbeing, customer service, flexibility and security of tenure,” Berg says.

As far as their sustainable goals go, Local seeks to achieve net zero operational emissions within its buildings, reduce embodied carbon and target a 7.5 Star NatHERS rating, exceeding minimum standards and market practice.

Observing that there is huge untapped potential in apartments from a sustainability perspective, Dan McLennan, Local co-CEO and founder said, “Through taking a holistic and long-term view, we can invest in a range of meaningful sustainability initiatives such as onsite renewable power, low-carbon materials selection and additional insulation.”

“For a conventional developer, these may not deliver increased sales prices and therefore, get put aside. However, for us, a strong focus on environmentally sustainable design will deliver a better longer term income stream, future proof our assets and offer a genuine alignment with the values of our investors, customers, and staff.”

Local projects will be funded by a real estate joint venture managed by Macquarie Asset Management’s Real Estate division, comprising Macquarie and major global real estate investors, with an end value in excess of $500 million. These include Local’s first build-to-rent asset at Kensington in Melbourne’s inner north-west, comprising 500 apartments and due for delivery by the end of 2024.

Jelte Bakker, Global CIO Real Estate, Macquarie Asset Management, says, “Investing in Local is aligned to our strategy to invest in real estate suitable for tomorrow’s world; partnering with specialist real estate operators to create assets in sectors that we believe are supported by global megatrends.

“We strongly support the build-to-rent sector in various parts of the world and believe it has significant potential to grow in scale in Australia, driven by demographics including a growing renting population.

Image: Local co-founders Matt Berg (L) and Dan McLennan (R)