Increase In Student Numbers Drives Accommodation Boom

Student accommodation was one of the most profitable and best performing markets during the global economic crisis; and it’s going global. New findings from Savills, the international real …

Student accommodation was one of the most profitable and best performing markets during the global economic crisis; and it’s going global.

New findings from Savills, the international real estate adviser, suggests that the student property market is increasingly become a major player in the world of property investment, and its popularity is only rising around the world.

According to Savills, purpose built student accommodation provides owners and landlords with a steady and reliable stream of income that is secured by the continuous demand for such housing. Although tenancy agreements are only generally short term, there is an ever increasing number of students looking for accommodation year on year, meaning that income from rental agreements is all but guaranteed for owners.

In addition, there is a growing rate of students prepared to travel overseas for education, and when traveling to global university cities with low accommodation competition, are providing ample opportunities for investors to take advantage. Purpose built student accommodation is cropping up all around the world, and investors are all too happy to be getting a slice of the action as students become more adventurous in choosing their place of study.

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Since the economic downturn, investment in student housing has more than doubled, according to Savills. From $3.4 billion around the world in 2007 to $7.2 billion last year, the capital invested in this sector continues to rise. In addition, Savills predicts private investors to become more involved in the market, particularly in areas where purpose built student housing is relatively new (at present, 57% of deals involve institutional investors).

Student numbers have increased rapidly in recent years, with 164 million people around the world currently enrolled in higher education. That number is anticipated to rise still further, by as much as 32 million over the coming decade. In 2011, international students numbered 3 million, and it is believe that it will be touching 4 million in 10 years.

Indeed, this mobile international student demographic will form a key part of the market for years to come. Desiring high quality and purpose built accommodation, they will begin to add to the already prevalent demand from domestic based students, particularly in places that offer English tuition degrees.

Yolande Barnes, director of world research at Savills, said: "These international students have ever higher expectations of every aspect of life at their chosen universities and this is creating attractive openings for investors in purpose built accommodation.”

"Growing international student numbers will secure the market for premium product, but we expect that it will not simply be students crossing borders. Increasingly, capital is also flowing across borders as it seeks new investment opportunities”, Barnes continued.

China (650,000), India (196,000) and South Korea (128,000) are the countries that lead the way in the numbers of overseas students, and these are expected to rise continually. Places such as the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan are all of interest to foreign traveling students.

Barnes said that there are some “risks to the sector”, such as tuition fees rising, and the improvements in distance learning, but said that “many university cities have sufficient accommodation shortfalls to justify significant levels of investment.”


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