It’s that time of year when students need somewhere to live, says Cheryl Markosky
Average weekly student rents are remaining stable, says a new study.
Student rents are down only slightly by 37p from 2013 (£79.64 to £79.27), according to research from accomodationforstudents.com.
The least expensive place for a student let’s in Stockton, while London’s the priciest spot.
Data from Hamptons International shows that a student property in Aberdeen costing £293,000 rents on average at £1,420 a month, compared to a £105,000 Newcastle property letting at £540.
Johnny Morris, head of research at Hamptons International, says: “With record numbers of students starting university this year, there’s more pressure on limited numbers of university housing, leading to more demand in the private rentals sector.”
He suggests that student housing has long been a lucrative investment for the canny landlord, evidenced most recently by a boom in interest by institutional investors.
“A student let can mean a higher yield for buy-to-let landlords, rather than renting to professionals or a family. By letting out individual rooms landlords can maximise their income,” Morris argues.
However, there is a sting in the tail.
“Student properties tend to be more difficult, and at times expensive, to manage, due to multiple tenants and a higher turnover than other sectors. So, potential investors should give careful thought as to whether they have the time, resources and expertise to manage a student let,” adds Morris.
Bristol’s a good spot to consider when investing in student homes, with two universities: redbrick Bristol University in Clifton and Bristol UWE in Frenchay.
“Most students want to live in Clifton or Redland at the heart of the action,” explains Adam Lock of Hamptons International in Bristol. “Gloucester Road’s also a well-liked location, appealing to UWE students who can catch a direct bus to the university located only three to four miles up the road.”
Gloucester Road and Redland present better value for money than Clifton, but due to popularity there aren’t many bargains to be had.
Most properties sell in Clifton for about 4 per cent to 4.5 per cent gross return, and you can expect to achieve around 6 per cent or more on Gloucester Road or in Redland.
“For those looking to buy an investment property, it’s always best to choose a property with three or more bedrooms,” adds Lock. “This guarantees long-term let opportunities when children leave university, as these areas are popular with families too.”
It’s also important to buy property within walking distance of amenities, as they are high up on students’ wish lists.
“Lastly, ensure that each bedroom is large enough to include a bed, wardrobe and a desk,” Lock sums up.
Simon Sewell, lettings manager at Lighthouse Property Services tips Lincoln as the next student hotspot.
“In Lincoln, the university’s expecting a further 2,000 attendees over the next three years,” he observes.
On average, Lincoln landlords are achieving a gross return of 12 per cent on their property investments.
“Students are looking for a high standard of accommodation with quality furnishings and fittings, double bedrooms and an accreditation scheme in place,” says Sewell.
Julia Garber, lettings director at the Marylebone office at Sandfords, believes landlords need to be emotionally and practically equipped to take on student lets.
“By that I mean they have to provide the type of property students need, furnished simply with wardrobes and desks.”
Garber also suggests that London student homes have to be fairly modern. “Today, students aren’t interested in rundown, dated properties. Keep in mind that international students coming to central London are funded by wealthy families willing to pay above market rent to have their child in quality places”.
Be clear on what you will do, adds Garber. For example, you will not change a light bulb, but you will sort a broken washing machine. “And ensure students are aware of what’s acceptable, in particular with regards to smoking or noise after a certain time.”
In the popular area of Crookes that’s close to the University of Sheffield, there’s the ideal landlord property for sale through Blundells Lettings.
“The five bedroom end-of-terrace in Clementson Road already has an HMO licence,” explains William Thompson from Blundells Lettings.
“This permit is not transferrable by sale, so you would need to re-apply.” But you have the reassurance that there shouldn’t be a problem, as a precedent has been set for lettings already.