How to compare student property investments

5th February 2014

The pool of global ‘travelling students’ is predicted to double to eight million by 2025, with Britain set to attract more than the US, according to the British Council. These students need to live somewhere – and can pay. Graham Flaherty considers the opportunities.  

The UCAS figures for 2014 confirm that the number of applications increased by 3.1% over the previous year. The biggest percentage increases in student applications came from Malaysia with a 25% increase while non-EU applications increased by 6% on average.

The universities are using the student accommodation as part of the overall marketing plan in attracting international students. The days of a landlord, letting out a house in the suburbs, to students instead of a family are starting to disappear. Students are becoming increasingly discerning buyers and branding is increasing important.

“The trend has moved rapidly towards purpose built student accommodation becoming the norm” confirms Stride Treglown architects and project managers.

The NUS/Unipol Accommodation Costs Survey, 2012/2013, reveals that the average weekly rent for a room in university owned accommodation in the UK doubled over 10 years.

The market place has attracted a number of institutional investors; the Moorfield Group developed a mixed use student housing in Exeter, called The Printworks, which is comprised of studio and multi-bedroom / cluster apartments, and extensive communal facilities which have been completed and fully tenanted for 2013/2014 student year.

The Knightsbridge Student Housing Fund developed, Astor House, a 519-bedroom development of clusters and studios in Plymouth, which rent from £152 per week.

New accommodation has to be built; the solution provides an interesting opportunity for people to joint venture with the developers to facilitate the new development of the much needed student accommodation.

Although, the student property funds are active in the market, every day investors also can take part in this lucrative investment market. One Touch Property Investment, who recently won Best Student Housing Broker of the year at the prestigious Overseas Property Professionals awards ceremony, have helped hundreds of investors to purchase student accommodation investments.

Student Accommodation Investment is perfectly suited towards overseas investors and retirees alike because the onsite management company takes care of every aspect of the property lettings and management.

Investment Director Arran Kerkvliet said: “A lot of people prefer purchasing actual bricks and mortal rather than investing in a student property fund. It just makes more sense to them because they can own a studio or en-suite room (Pod) similar to the ones their sons and daughters would have stayed in at university.”

“Most of the investments are off-plan, whereby the purchaser contributes a certain portion towards the build cost -typically £27,000- during the construction phase and what they get in return is a fully managed, high yielding investment property.”




We can compare and contrast some recent opportunities in terms of some of the most common considerations, namely:

· Supply and demand

· Return on investment

· Rental Guarantee Period

· Credibility of the developer

· Ongoing Management Company

Supply and demand

Often the demand for student accommodation is related number of student attending the universities, which is often a function of the University ranking. Universities, such as Loughborough, rank in the top 15 for academics and recently won Sports University of the year for 2013. Students are drawn to the successful track record and rich sport heritage, some former student include Sir Clive Woodward, Lord Sebastian Coe and Paula Radcliffe. Loughborough Student pods can be purchased from as little as £39,150 with 8% Net Income for 3 years.

The price of student property investment in Middlesborough  is comparable at – £35,995 – and you get more for your money. At that price you can purchase a twenty-four square meter premium studio with 9.5% returns secured over two years. So even though Teeside University ranks 97 in the complete university guide, there is still good demand with 28,000 students looking for accommodation and the university only provides 1

The other balancing factor is the supply side; you can keep abreast by reading student property guides and looking into local law changes such as the Article 4 Direction, which has been adopted in places like Nottingham, Newcastle and Leicester. Article 4 basically restricts the conversion of single-family homes into student residences, thereby limiting supply.

Return on Investment

The bulk of the student properties are purchased off-plan up to a year to completion. Some of the developers offer interest paid on deposit but for the majority, that means that there will be no return on investment for the first year.

Completed student properties, like Loughborough, offer immediate returns of 8%… but this is not the only consideration. Some investors prefer to go ahead with investments with longer guarantee periods.

There is a Leeds Student Accommodation Investment comes with a five-year rental guarantee of between 8.1% – 8.3%. Compared with the typical bank savings rate of 2%, that is certainly very attractive to investors, who are prepared to wait for the January 2015 completion.

The Credibility of the Developer & Management Company

It is vitally important know who are working with, the outcomes could end up disastrous. Using an specialist student property broker, like One Touch Property Investment, could help you avoid damaging situations through the process of conducting background research on the developer; thereby helping you to select trustworthy partners and reputable management companies to work with.

“We have helped over 200 investors acquire student property in the best locations by seeking out reliable partners to ensure that they can take their purchase decision with confidence and ease” says Arran Kerkvliet.

This article is sponsored by One Touch Property Investments


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