BREXIT and International Students

A recent official study recommends there should continue to be no cap on overseas student numbers, arguing they bring money, skills and “soft power” to Britain. 

This was the conclusion of a September 2018 report by the Migration Advisory Committee, which is tasked with giving independent advice to the government on immigration.

The report says over 750,000 students come to the UK each year and reasons “If there is a problem with students in the target, it is with the target itself rather than the inclusion of students in the target”. 

The UK Institute of Directors’ Senior Economist Tej Parikh said the report makes “abundantly clear the benefits international students bring to our country”, but that “there remains a strong case for re-examining the inclusion of students in the Government’s net migration target”. 

He also said that Britain is at risk of becoming less competitive than Canada and Australia if it fails to create more opportunities for international students to live and work here after their studies.

The report overall nonetheless received mixed reviews from student and university bodies, saying the recommendations did not go far enough.

However the argument falls, the fact is that the rest of the EU sits firmly in the minority of regions from which International students arrive in the UK to study, with China and the Far East forming the  the lion’s share of demand. The chart below makes for interesting reading.

Furthermore the Brexit-fuelled impact on the value of the £ makes the UK an even more attractive place financially to study for further education.

All this, together with the ever-growing demand from students for high quality accommodation would appear to make the Purpose-built Student Accommodation market a solid one for not just the long term, but a real opportunity now for the seasoned property investor.

Here’s something surprising – how has UK Student property been impacted by the BREXIT vote?

Rather than damage performance, as many analysts had forecast, the Brexit vote intensified activity in the UK student property market and demonstrated the resilience of the sector.

A recent report by Savills also highlighted how the demand for student housing in the UK has outgrown supply. Analysts believe that the market will continue to be driven by bulk purchases, as investors seek to shore up their positions and acquire additional scale.

Appealing to the Far East

The UK’s student property market has become a global asset class, attracting billions in investment from some of the world’s richest individuals and sovereign wealth funds. Demand is so strong that it was standing-room only for some prospective buyers at a recent investment conference in London. One of the biggest overseas investors is Singapore-based fund Mapletree, which acquired over 6,000 beds last year.

In recent comments, Hiew Yoon Khong, Chief Executive of Mapletree provided insight as to why the asset class holds such appeal to overseas investors, telling reporters: “Student accommodation is a big business and relatively low risk.” According to Savills, the second largest source of capital into UK student housing in 2016 came from North America, with over £1.3bn worth of investment. The bulk of which came from two Canadian investors: Brookfield SRE and CPPIB.

Rising standards

As the student buy to let property market has grown exponentially, so the quality of the accommodation has risen. Nowadays student rooms are more akin to corporate apartments, with communal facilities to match. A key part of our portfolio at HighGround is One Islington Plaza in Liverpool, where flat-screen TVs and high-speed broadband come as standard in the rooms. A cinema room, gymnasium and games room provide students the chance to relax away from their studies, reflecting new standards that many now demand. Research from Knight Frank shows that over one-fifth of students are willing to pay more than £160 per week for the right facilities. New possibilities are being created within the market, as developers compete for the attention of an increasingly discerning client base. Overseas students, attracted by a more lifestyle-oriented academic environment, are a big part of the equation.

Appealing to students means appealing to buy to let investors, who will in turn enjoy greater rental returns, and a UK student property market that has demonstrated it can weather the toughest of times.

See more about UK Student Property :

Rather than damage performance, as many analysts had forecast, the Brexit vote intensified activity in the UK student property market and demonstrated the resilience of the sector.

A recent report by Savills also highlighted how the demand for student housing in the UK has outgrown supply. Analysts believe that the market will continue to be driven by bulk purchases, as investors seek to shore up their positions and acquire additional scale.

Appealing to the Far East

The UK’s student property market has become a global asset class, attracting billions in investment from some of the world’s richest individuals and sovereign wealth funds. Demand is so strong that it was standing-room only for some prospective buyers at a recent investment conference in London. One of the biggest overseas investors is Singapore-based fund Mapletree, which acquired over 6,000 beds last year.

In recent comments, Hiew Yoon Khong, Chief Executive of Mapletree provided insight as to why the asset class holds such appeal to overseas investors, telling reporters: “Student accommodation is a big business and relatively low risk.” According to Savills, the second largest source of capital into UK student housing in 2016 came from North America, with over £1.3bn worth of investment. The bulk of which came from two Canadian investors: Brookfield SRE and CPPIB.

Rising standards

As the student buy to let property market has grown exponentially, so the quality of the accommodation has risen. Nowadays student rooms are more akin to corporate apartments, with communal facilities to match. A key part of our portfolio at HighGround is Natex in Liverpool, where flat-screen TVs and high-speed broadband come as standard in the rooms. A cinema room, gymnasium and games room provide students the chance to relax away from their studies, reflecting new standards that many now demand. Research from Knight Frank shows that over one-fifth of students are willing to pay more than £160 per week for the right facilities. New possibilities are being created within the market, as developers compete for the attention of an increasingly discerning client base. Overseas students, attracted by a more lifestyle-oriented academic environment, are a big part of the equation.

Appealing to students means appealing to buy to let investors, who will in turn enjoy greater rental returns, and a UK student property market that has demonstrated it can weather the toughest of times.

See more about UK Student Property :

How to Succeed in Student Property – Tip 4: Deciding if Student Room investment is right for you..

Student room ownership through Purpose-built Student Accommodation can provide some interesting returns from rental income, but they’re certainly not for everyone.Here’s a handy checklist and some expert notes to help you decide if they’re right for you.

So why not sit down with a nice cuppa or a sandwich at your desk, and ask yourself …

Is hands-free income appealing to me, or do I like to be in full landlord-style control of my property?

For active landlords, managing and improving their properties is part of their “job” and they embrace and on the whole enjoy it.

Purpose-built student property (or PBSA) on the other hand is by necessity managed entirely by expert specialist facilities management companies. Having research the investment, PBSA investors are satisfied that the management company know exactly what they’re doing and to let them get on with it. If you think you’ll have “ants in your pants” at this and would want to be involved in the running, furnishing, tenant finding, refurbishing, then PBSA is definitely not for you – because you simply can’t do that!

Do I have the time to regularly keep an eye on my property or do I prefer to set and forget?

Those with the considerable time and inclination to be a landlord have the choice of whether to spend it on their properties. For those who simply cannot spare the drain of time in their busy lives to run a buy-to-let property portfolio, PBSA probably wins hands-down.

Is my investment background primarily property ownership or mainstream investment such as stocks and bonds or companies?

PBSA In many ways sits between the two. You have the benefit of ownership of physical property assets with the advantage of being able to sit back and enjoy the income. However, property is not a liquid asset like stocks and shares, and your capital is tied up in the asset. Admittedly you can sell the asset but this would take time. So what are you comfortable with?

Am I able to pay for and own the property outright (typically £50k-£75k)?

Off-plan PBSA is predominantly a cash purchase, although we do have access to a lender willing to look at offering a mortgage, subject to status and the PBSA development itself.

Am I looking primarily for income or capital growth?

PBSA should be considered primarily a long-term reliable income generator. As it is effectively commercial property, its value is based on achievable rental income, which will rise steadily with inflation over the years. Don’t expect residential-style price movements (either up or down). As leverage (a mortgage) is not available at purchase, high percentage capital gains should not be realistically expected and will likely not be the key reason you invest in PBSA.

Do I enjoy researching property investments?

    • There is a little more upfront research to do with PBSA that with buying buy-to-let, especially if this area of property is new to you. But as a fully-managed and maintained asset, the rewards of time-saving come quickly.
    • Whether you do or you don’t, seek out a good partner who can help you with your research (it’s what we and other top-notch investment property brokers will do for you). 

Am I willing to retain the asset for at least 5 years?

If you think you may need your invested capital back at short notice, then at this stage of your investment life, direct property investment of any kind including buy-to-let and PBSA, is probably not for you, sorry. Property Bonds may be more suitable though, take a look at our blog topic on that subject.

If you still think you’re the right type of investor for Student Property, take a look through our Student Property expert guide, to discover the strong case for investment…