Investing in student accommodation explained

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1 Your Guide to Student Property Investment Investing in student accommodation explained

2 Why has student accommodation investment been on the increase? Student accommodation has been higher than residential property on the shopping list of the majority of institutional investors for quite some time. It is only recently that it has been built for sale to individual investors on a room by room basis and it is proving extremely popular. However it should be approached with caution as there are good, bad and ugly student accommodation investments out there. "Some 3.1 billion was invested in the UK Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market in 2016, more than double the levels seen in 2013 and 2014." Knight Frank Student Report 2017 "A key challenge for investors in 2017 will be stock availability" 1. It offers better returns than residential property. It is no coincidence that larger institutions have been and still are more active in student accommodation investment than in standard residential property. If you have had the unfortunate experience as a parent of how much property your child gets for your money renting as a student you will understand why. Rents per square foot are extremely high. 2. In a volatile economy, with solid returns more challenging to come by, student accommodation is considered by many institutional investors as a solid investment with strong returns. 3. There has been a major change to the landscape of student accommodation investment over the last few years because most local authorities in major university towns and cities have begun enforcing article 4 planning restrictions. This prevents the conversion of residential properties to student accommodation. It has led to an increase in purpose built blocks, predominantly constructed by institutions. These institutional investors can see that continued growth in student numbers despite the introduction of tuition fees, plus the complete removal of competition from private landlords converting new student accommodation in key areas is putting pressure on the supply. This in turn increases occupancy rates and pushes up rents for students.

3 With the increase in institutional student accommodation investment has come an increase in purpose built student accommodation which can be purchased by individual investors. This is the opportunity to buy en suite rooms and studios in purpose built student blocks. Many purpose built developments are now being sold which offer a gym, 24 hour security, pool room and lounge areas. These high quality developments are being tailored to the high end of the UK student market and the rapidly increasing numbers of wealthy overseas students whose parents may be less than enthusiastic about them sharing in your stereotypical student house. They are usually packaged offering assured returns. The demand has been high with every development we have been involved in selling off plan. It is important to buy through companies with a good track record. Broadgate only market developments with planning from developers with a solid track record. A purpose built student accommodation investment is unlikely to qualify for mortgage finance. It will be below most lenders minimum size requirement for a studio apartment. Lenders do not lend on en suite rooms unless you purchase an entire building, in which case commercial finance is available.

4 CASE STUDIES Palace Studios - Huddersfield Palace Studios was the conversion of Huddersfield s largely derelict Palace Theatre into high quality student studios. Students moved in at the beginning of the 2015/16 academic year. Investors have been receiving income guaranteed by the developer since completion. Occupancy rates have been excellent as expected. Computer generated images Photos

5 Richmond House - Southampton Computer generated images High specification student studios in Southampton. Guaranteed income paid by the developer to investors for 5 years. Photos

6 Canterbury Hall - Preston Available and due to complete August 2018

7 Canterbury Hall build progress January 2018 The scheme has no delays The east, west and centre wings are now fully roofed in All wings now have scaffolding erected Window installation is at 50% Metsec Walls (wall frames) installation is at 70% Fire health and safety electrical measures are all agreed Electrical first fix is now 18% complete A new designer has been employed who is working on a grand design for the two large glass central atriums from ground to roof level The designer will be working on a wow factor for the reception, in-line with the central atriums No accidents or near misses to report, our health and safety audit came in as excellent The show room office opened in January to allow ease of access to the show home Show Flat Images

8 Things to Look Out For When Buying a Purpose Built Student Accommodation Investment We carry out due diligence on every project we release for sale. These are the main checks you should carry out. Has planning been granted? - You would be surprised at the amount of student accommodation investments that are marketed without planning. Are the yields sustainable? - Carry out due diligence into the rents achievable. This ensures that strong yields are achievable beyond the assured rental period. If student rents continue to rise at around 3% per annum your yield should increase at the end of the assured rental period. Not only is this important for the income from your student accommodation investment but also to ensure it is easy to resell. Does the management company have a track record? - Ensure the managing agent has a good track record of operating other student accommodation. Are your funds secure? - Most student accommodation investments are being sold quickly off plan. Most developments require you to pay a 5000 reservation fee (which in our opinion is excessive but it has become standard in the industry). They will then typically require 25%-50% on exchange of contracts. There may be another stage payment to make between exchange and completion. It is important to ensure that these funds are not passed to the developer and only passed on from the solicitors when an appointed surveyor for the project signs off each stage. Some purpose built student accommodation investments will offer insurance on invested funds. Some will pay interest on those invested funds. What if the developer goes bust? - Check that you as a buyer you have a share in the ownership of the project so that you can get together to find someone to complete the project if that happens. Most developers of student accommodation fund the build with the deposits so it would take some severe incompetence for them to go bust during construction. Do you get a share of the surplus? - On some developments if the operator makes a greater profit than the assured amount it is passed on to you, on others they keep it. Are there any deductions from the assured rent? What happens if the development isn't completed in time? If it isn't ready in time you could be missing out on income. Are you free to sell at any time? Are you responsible for the internal maintenance of the room you buy?

9 Student Accommodation Investment FAQ s 1. Why do student accommodation investments achieve higher returns than standard buy to lets? Because students typically live in higher densities. With more people per square foot than standard residential property. Purpose built student accommodation also achieves additional rental by offering convenience and security. 2. Why do students pay more to live in purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) than in shared houses? Primarily security, quality of accommodation and amenities along with a feeling of additional involvement in the student community. See fig Are running costs higher than normal buy to let? They are higher than a standard buy to let because of the inclusion of bills. They will generally be similar to a student house that has inclusive bills except that the management charge is likely to be lower due to economies of scale. If you buy correctly your net income from your investment should easily outperform standard buy to let. 4. What kind of returns should I expect on my student accommodation investment? Around 11% gross yield* and between 7 and 10% net of all costs assured for 2 to 5 years. You should be checking the rents to calculate what the actual returns are as the assured figures are sometimes subsidised by developers. Actual net returns beyond the assured period are typically % not factoring rent increases (estimated at 2-3% per annum). Always check whether the quoted figures factor in a void period for the summer term from between 1 and 9 weeks and whether they factor in ground rent deductions (these are usually 250 per annum). *Gross yield is calculated as total rental income divided by the purchase price. 5. How does this compare with buy to let? The UK average yield for buy to let is reportedly 5.8% gross which will typically be 1-2% net return from rental income after running costs. Gross yield on standard residential buy to lets varies from around 2% gross in prime London to 10% gross for terraced properties in deprived areas let to local authority tenants. 6. What happens after the assured period? By the end of the assured period you will have a choice regarding whether to continue with the managing agent or to change to someone else. The company managing the block should have been doing a good job and you can carry on. A good management company will have provided you with management accounts to justify all spending, kept the block in a good state of repair and occupancy rates should have been very high. Rather than an assured amount you will get all the costs deducted from your gross rent and be given the difference. If you have bought on a development with a good yield and student rents have continued to grow at the rate they have been growing in recent years your income will be more than the assured amount. 7. What happens if my property doesn t let after the assured period? One of the great things about student accommodation is that the busy letting period tends to run from January to April depending on the location. If your property hasn t let by April you can speak to the managing agent about why and still have May to September to do something about it. These months are still good letting months and every university still has students looking for a place to live just before the start of term. The largest provider of student accommodation in the UK currently run at 97% occupancy, on average buy to let property is tenanted for 94.5% of the year. 8. What is the difference between assured and guaranteed returns? We are yet to meet a developer who offers a guarantee of more than a year. To offer a real guarantee a developer would have to put the total amount of the rents for the whole development, for the whole period of the guarantee in a secure escrow account. Most, if not all, of the money will come from paying students. If a developer was assuring 8% for 5 years on a 50,000 property they would have to tie up 20,000 which is almost certainly more than their total profit! Even if a developer had access to this amount of funds they are unlikely to be keen to tie up this amount of capital. An assured return is a legal obligation that the developer will pay the return to you. They are taking the risk of the property not letting and it illustrates a confidence from the developer that they can achieve the rent predicted. 9. Can I get a mortgage? Generally residential buy to let mortgage lenders do not lend on any accommodation less than 30m2. Commercial lenders will look at student accommodation studios but may have a minimum lending level of 100,000. We would advise that you buy on the basis that you are happy making a cash investment to be safe. Never put down a 50% exchange deposit if you are reliant on mortgage funds. 10. Do I need to get insurance? On most student accommodation investments, during the assured period you lease the property back to the developer and they sublet it to the tenants so they are responsible for landlords and contents insurance. Buildings insurance is part of the service charge which is part of the deductions made between the gross and net return. Beyond this the developer may offer an extension to the lease period. If not you will need to pay a small amount of insurance but buildings insurance will be included in the service charges as with any residential apartment block. 11. Am I responsible for gas safety, electrical checks and other landlord checks? As long as the property is let to the developer they are responsible for these checks. A good management company will take care of them for you after that.

10 12. Am I responsible for chasing unpaid rent? Another great thing about student accommodation is that you should have a guarantor (usually a parent). Your managing agent should do any required chasing. During the assured period it would not be your responsibility at all. 13. Am I responsible for repairs within my property? In most cases repairs are included in the charges deducted from the gross rent. However ensure you check on each and every development. 14. Can I manage it myself? For most purpose built student accommodation investments the developer will manage it during the assured period. While the developer is offering an assurance they want to maintain good standards within the development as they are taking the risk. Letting people manage their own may jeopardise this. Also the actual management charge on the developments is low at around 4-6% so you are saving little by doing it yourself. Most of the charges are things such as utilities and staff. It is important to remember that the service charges are high because you are providing an all in solution for students. This is one of the reasons why the returns are so good on student accommodation investments even after the service charges are deducted. 15. Can I resell my property? Yes, you can sell it at any time in exactly the same way as you would sell a residential flat. Assured amounts will be passed to new buyers 16. How would I go about selling a student property? You can sell it via an estate agent or a specialist student investment company. The limited supply compared to demand means that there are few built and operational student accommodation investments for sale. 17. Is it harder to sell than a residential apartment or house? Demand for these properties currently outstrips supply more than residential property. Every newly constructed student development we have been involved in has sold out off plan. There are very few of this type of property on the market compared to residential property. About 3000 student rooms were sold in 2013 compared to around 1 million residential properties. Yes demand is lower but so is supply. If we advertise on property portals, student accommodation performs similarly to residential in terms of the number of people who find it in searches and click through for more information. We always advertise them as cash only, however the percentage that buy student accommodation investments is higher than residential as people are less location specific due to its hands free nature and you are competing in a niche market rather than with all other properties on the market. Some developers offer buybacks. They are usually weighted in the favour of the developer but if you want a defined exit strategy speak to us to see if there are any available at the time of asking and what they entail. 18. What is the difference between a studio and an ensuite room? En suite rooms are a room with bathroom facilities, they typically share kitchen facilities with between 6 and 9 other rooms. Studios have their own cooking facilities. 19. Should I buy an en suite room or a studio? There is little difference in terms of return, most of the institutional providers build en suite rooms but there is a growing market particularly among overseas students for studios. Recent research suggests that rental increases for studios have been marginally more than en suite rooms but it is very marginal. Studios are more expensive but get higher rents and longer tenancy terms, often 51 weeks rather than 44. Judge the return on each by development. A good agent will also be able to guide you on the supply of each type in the local market. 20. Will student accommodation struggle in a market crash? Student accommodation proved to be a strong investment in the last economic downturn despite it coinciding with the introduction of student fees. It didn t suffer from a decrease in value as residential property did and didn t suffer from lack of demand like retail or industrial property. The student market both for university applications and accommodation is oversupplied almost everywhere which leaves a lot of slack in a market downturn. 21. Will I make more profit on student accommodation investment or on residential property? Capital growth is likely to be higher for residential property over a ten year period but the overall profit you make from a combination of capital growth and rental income is likely to be higher on a student accommodation investment. Recent calculations we carried out showed a residential property let at the national average 5.8% yield which goes up in price by 5% per year for 10 years should return 78% over 10 years. A student accommodation investment with a net return of 8% increasing 2% per year (which is in line with recent predictions made by leading experts in the field) should return 119% over 10 years. 22. How do students afford the rents, they seem high? Most of the growth in the sector is in high quality student accommodation. As with the residential rental market there is demand from all types of students. There will still be many who are fixed on getting the best price but there are many others, particularly from overseas who are not comfortable in the traditional student digs and want something a little better. Mostly parents will fund this accommodation. Features such as high speed broadband are increasingly important for Skype and streaming, particularly among overseas students. Some of the developments we have sold include Cable TV with international channels. Also see fig Can my son or daughter live in it? They can but they will need to pay rent the same as anyone else. It is a question that is asked very occasionally and developers are generally not in need of the sales to a sufficient degree to make the ongoing management any more complicated than it needs to be. If you did go down the route of your son or daughter living in the unit and paying the rent for them check with your accountant that they are happy you won t have to pay income tax on the money when you get it back again. 24. What type of university should I invest in? Supply and demand is paramount as well as ensuring that the university is investing in its facilities and infrastructure. The big name universities are a big draw for many but they sometimes have a much greater supply of private accommodation already. In the last year or two many university towns and cities have started to prevent the conversion of residential property to student accommodation. In most cases you need to make a planning application rather than just applying for a license. In many cities the majority of these are turned down. Why? Because the local councils want to cut back on student ghettos but also there is the realisation from local councils that they have lost a great deal of council tax revenue from their housing stock as students don t pay council tax. In most UK university towns and cities private housing makes up over 50% of the student accommodation so the effects of this are significant. 25. Why are they always off plan? Because they sell fast. No developer is going to build a development and then sell it if they know they can sell it off plan.

11 PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Broadgate Residential Investments also operates a lettings, property management and online estate agency business under the name Cloud Homes. Cloud Homes manages a property portfolio and carries out residential sales throughout the UK with highly experienced staff. cloudhomes.co.uk Head Office: Tel: London Office: Tel:

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