In the UK property market over the last 12 month Student accommodation has been the best-performing asset with average double-digit returns these have been driven by strong rental growth.
Over the last 10 years the student housing sector has grown to a market worth in the region of £103bn. This growth has been driven by a rise in the number of students enrolling on university courses, up from 100m in 2000 to over 150m last year.
According to the property index student housing funds have returned close to 12% since the start of the year this compares with an average return of only 1.3% across the rest of the property market and an average 6% for other investments.
Over the last year a number of large investment funds have bought into the sector as
they believe that the sector is not greatly affected by the present economic downturn and lenders are also turning to student accommodation as one of a handful of property types which they view as low risk: vacancy rates run at about 5%, less than one-third of the figure elsewhere in the property sector.
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A lot of investors simply rely on the price given to them by the agent or developer. But developers can overcharge, they over-design buildings in a bid to win awards and they are forced to overcharge for the buildings simply to break even.
Some savvier investors may base their investments on a search on one of the many
internet property portals to find the average prices for similar properties in the area.
The more experienced might also use sites like Zoopla to see how properties have been amended, re-listed, re-valued since their original posting.
However, these sites only give us the values that the vendors and the estate agents think that the property is worth. This isn’t reliable as the vendor clearly wants to
obtain the maximum price, a strategy supported by the agent who normally works
on a commission basis.
There is only one way for investors to ascertain a property’s value which is truly safe and that is to find a properties residual value. The residual value is based on the amount of net rental income it can generate – anything above 6% looks like a
For example, if a property brings in £6,000 rent per year after all costs have been
taken in to account, that £6,000, based on a 6% net yield would give the property a value of £100,000.
That £100,000 would be the Residual Value of the property and it should be the focus for every investor going in to a deal. But at the minute investors ignore the residual and rely purely on the capital growth of a property which is hopelessly optimistic considering the market place at the moment.
Despite the residual value of a property being £100,000. The investor may pay £125,000 believing that the value of the property will increase and they can sell it for
£150,000. But then if property prices start to fall slightly, he’s suddenly in
negative equity and then the only price someone would be willing to pay for the
property is the Residual Value and the investor will have lost £25,000.
The key to real successful and safe investment is how you derive the 6% net yield which you have used to establish the property’s residual value. By working out the 6% net yield using below market value rent it means that the investor will not have
to contend with tenants struggling to pay rent. As rent continues to rise, there will always be a demand for properties charging below market value rent.
First time buyers will be queuing round the block to save a £100 per month, yet the
investor is still left with a 6% net yield because they have bought the property
at residual value.
It also means that there will always be savvy investors looking to purchase a property at the residual value because they are not only purchasing a strong income stream, but they are purchasing a property at a price that will not be affected by market fluctuations or crashes.
If the property market was to fall again then the investors who have invested
in residual value will be protected from the fall in house prices and when
houses start to get repossessed and more people are forced in to the rental
market, then their yields will go up even though they are still charging below
In the end, everybody will be relying on residual property valuations. It’s inevitably in the future but there’s no reason why investors can’t take advantage of them now.
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Student accommodation will continue to offer attractive investment returns in spite of upcoming changes to tuition fees, this is according to all the major market analysts.
Private investors have been attracted to student property as an asset class due to the relatively high yields on offer, driven by the imbalance between the supply of accommodation and the high demand for university places.
With an offer on at the moment of buy five get one free there has never been a better time to buy into this market especially when you consider that the current value for student accommodation is £45,000 per unit whilst the deal offered nets the properties down to £25000 per unit.
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Corporate investment in student letting was up 50% to £1.15 billion last year as rents and yields continue to go through the roof.
The flood of institutional money into student accommodation has continued in the first three months of 2012 with nearly £250 million invested, according to property consultants CBRE.
This year’s increase in tuition fees up to a maximum £9,000 for the academic year starting in September has slightly dented applications for courses, but universities are still receiving more applications than they have places.
Any shortfall in places is easily taken up by students from overseas, whose
numbers continue to grow.
According to UCAS figures, applications from outside Europe grew by 12% year on year. The largest numbers came from Hong Kong (37%) and Australia (15%).
Jo Winchester, Head of Student Housing, CBRE, said: “Applications are currently 80,000 ahead of the number of acceptances in 2011. While we do not expect student numbers to fall nationally due to fee increases, we do anticipate wide variations at a local level. However, it is still too early to identify which universities will have reduced cohorts in 2012 and how demand for accommodation will be affected in those towns.
“Looking ahead, developers will need to not only consider student numbers and bed-spaces, but most critically the financial strength and popularity of universities in conjunction with the underlying dynamics of the property market.
Support from universities together with clever structuring is likely to assist planning and funding solutions for new development.
“The recent figures have shown investors that now is a good time to buy student properties as property yields look very positive.”
Despite the massive investment by corporates and universities in providing halls of residence, even the largest corporate only has 44,000 bedspaces.
Halls offer around 30% of the bed spaces needed by students across the UK, leaving private landlords to take up the student letting slack.
Sourced from Property118 News Team
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