Martin Chuter is Head of Property Portfolio at Resonance and shares his thirty-five plus years of experience in a question and answer session. He describes his career to date, his role at Resonance and the challenges he faces managing a growing housing stock. Martin’s personal view is that “having a warm, safe and dry home is a right” and he explains how that aligns with the work of the Resonance property funds.
Q: Tell us about your career to date.
A: I started working in property with a regional chartered surveying practice, where I was fortunate to work in all departments ranging from residential and commercial sales through to asset management. These early years gave me a great grounding in the principles of buying, selling, letting, surveying, and managing property, which have held me in good stead throughout my career.
In the last twenty years, I have specialised in property and asset management, where I have been responsible for substantial property portfolios of up to 50,000 homes. I have been lucky enough to be able to work in different sectors, such as Operations Director for a large developer or as Director of Property Management for a national housing association. These opportunities have broadened my thinking, knowledge, and experience, which has enabled me to support teams in identifying efficiencies and improving performance, in both the private and social housing sectors.
Q: What is your current role at Resonance?
A: My team and I are focused on managing the properties Resonance has acquired, in a way that allows us to continue to deliver social outcomes for our tenants, whilst providing an appropriate return for our investors. The role and responsibilities are varied, ranging from team development through to housing partner relationship management.
There are several key workstreams that I will be supporting, such as developing an environmental strategy, building a capital expenditure programme for our homes, and working with our housing partners to ensure they maintain the condition, as well as the health and safety, of our homes.
Q: Why did you decide to join Resonance?
A: I believe having a warm, safe and dry home is a right, bringing stability and security to our lives. Resonance’s purpose is very much aligned with this view, and more importantly, is actively making a difference.
The need to provide homes is not diminishing, in fact the challenges are increasing, including providing energy-efficient and affordable homes. My experience will enable me to support Resonance in meeting these challenges in innovative ways, whilst growing the property portfolio to meet increasing demand. I am very much aligned with Resonance’s mission, vision and values and pleased to be working with a business that is committed to making a genuine impact.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your role?
A: Working with my colleagues to help grow the business and develop a scalable platform, which will enable us to manage an increasing property portfolio. This will present a unique set of challenges from team building through to data management, which will need to be overcome to ensure efficiencies are achieved.
Additionally, it is working with our housing partners, particularly those that are smaller and less experienced that need more support. Developing bespoke solutions and working with them to meet their objectives will be rewarding.
Q: What fulfils you outside of work?
A: I’m very fortunate to have a large family with a wide age range and geographically spread. This means family events are held in interesting parts of the UK where I get the opportunity to interact with nieces and nephews to keep up my Lego and PlayStation skills, and realise that my footballing ability is not as good as I thought.
I enjoy being a Trustee of a small charity. and I get a lot of satisfaction in supporting them where I can, including coaching their senior team.
The gift a few years ago of membership of the National Trust was inspirational, as it motivated me to go to places of interest that I may not otherwise have chosen to visit. In most cases, my knowledge has increased and importantly it has given me an excuse to be outside in places of natural beauty.
Q: What is your first opinion of Resonance’s housing stock?
A: Every property portfolio has different goals to meet the requirements of the investors and the tenants. This determines the house type, location and ultimately value of the property. In respect of Resonance, the properties meet the criteria of the different funds and as such generally at the lower end of the property market.
However, due to the experience of the acquisition team and the knowledge of the refurbishment team, Resonance creates homes for people who would struggle to find somewhere they can ‘call their own’. The general condition of the portfolio is good however, it is important that my team, together with our housing partners, maintain the properties to a good standard.
Q: As the housing stock grows, what are the upcoming challenges?
A: There are a number of challenges, but these are my top five:
1) Developing a scalable platform that will enable growth to be managed efficiently, without adding unnecessary cost to the management of the portfolio.
2) Legislation, such as the building safety bill and social housing white paper, which will impact the requirements from our housing partners, influencing what we acquire and how we refurbish the property.
3) Net zero by 2050 is an immense and costly challenge and needs careful planning to meet the requirements, whilst ensuring our housing stock remains affordable.
4) The availability of contractors and materials has resulted in delayed repairs, and it is likely this will continue particularly as specialists will be in short supply. For example, nationally 300,000 electric heat pumps are required to be fitted annually, whereas currently less than 60,000 are installed.
5) Efficient use of resources and waste will drive the need to develop a preventative maintenance strategy, designed to anticipate repair needs as well as using longer lasting materials.
Q: What is the difference between managing a housing portfolio ten years ago and now?
A: The most impactful event of the last ten years was Grenfell. Although a few factors contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire, at its root was a culture of indifference, which dismissed many of the tenants’ concerns.
Grenfell will be seen as a catalyst for badly needed change in how buildings are maintained, materials used and the need to engage with tenants. This event will be regarded as transformative and will shape good practices in the sector for many years to come.
Q: What changes in the property industry have you seen in the past five years?
A: The implementation of new legislation, ranging from building safety, tenant engagement through to leasehold reform and Net Zero. The residential property sector has become more regulated than ever before, which has been challenging, although largely needed.
The recognition that the resident needs to be at the heart of the process is positive and will ultimately help the quality of properties to improve. However, we need to recognise that in the last eighteen months, many of these changes have forced landlords to leave, resulting in a shortage of accommodation that makes Resonance’s offer even more important.
Q: Why is it important that everyone has access to a safe and decent, affordable home?
A: It is estimated there are 8.5 million people in England that cannot access the housing they need. The human impact is felt through health and wellbeing issues, which further affects children’s education.
Also, poor housing costs approx. £18bn per year, and most of this cost directly affects public services. Therefore, the benefits of a plan to improve housing will be felt at national level through savings to the NHS and other public services, and at local level via improved health and wellbeing.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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