Investing in student property has become one of the most popular (and seemingly profitable) types of property investment in the UK this year, as less investors look to classic residential units in the south and shift towards the north, commercial and student opportunities. Joint research by UCAS and Knight Frank - the largest-ever survey of British student accommodation - has recent collated together the opinions of students across the country to find out what they really want from their student accommodation. With over 30% of first-year university students living in purpose-build student accommodation, the research has provided a tool that is an essential for any investor looking to get the upper hand in student property investment.
The key asset that the research found students looked for in their accommodation was location - both close proximity to the university campuses (or close to easy transport links) and to 'student areas' and their friends. Many students didn't consider a city centre location as the most important place for their accommodation, as long as they were in close proximity to their university buildings.
Another high-ranking opinion that student has was that they wanted to have the option to live with their friends, yet still have their own personal space - something which student clusters offer. Value for money was also a key factor in a students consideration of accommodation - 97% said that it wasn't necessarily the cost of the accommodation, but what they got included for what they were paying. A large number of interviewees also considered extra facilities such as gyms and cinemas to be an attractive feature.
James Pullan, Global Head of Student Property at Knight Frank, commented: "The private sector now accounts for the majority of new [purpose-build student accommodation] development, and, as universities become more reliant on outside investment to provide new [accommodation], greater focus is likely to be placed on the strength of the relationship between the private sector and universities."
Both this research and shifts in the market have seen a surge towards the back-end of 2018 of investors focusing on creating purpose-build student accommodation in tier one university cities such as Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, and further south. It's predicted that the UK's purpose-build student accommodation market, by the end of 2019, will be worth over £50 billion.