[news] Report reveals facts and hotspots for UK student property

Purpose built Student Accommodation (PBSA)  in the UK remains an incredibly popular asset class for a whole host of reasons.

When it comes to looking for reliable growth and passive income through property, fully-managed student property is hard to beat. 

Here are 9 fascinating facts about student property!

Did you know that …

  1. It’s Big Business. In 2015, a massive £5.1b’s worth of PBSA transactions took place – the largest yearly figure ever.
  2. It’s Popular. Just over 49,000 PBSA beds were bought and sold last year.
  3. The Big Boys are playing. Nearly half of these were bought by institutions, including major pension funds such as Aviva and BlackRock.
  4. If a certain brewery built property, it would be this. PBSA has again outperformed all traditional property classes.
  5. Students are in love. PBSA is more popular with students than ever before, and this is set to continue
  6. It can be T.A.X Friendly. Most Purpose-built student property is exempted by HMRC from capital gains tax (but seek professional tax advice to confirm for your situation)
  7. More buyers love second-hand. With increasing yields (average rent in 2015 was up by 3.64% – well above inflation), the resale secondary market is becoming lucrative. Some buyers are prepared to pay a premium for PBSA blocks with years of trading history.
  8. It’s still growing. Growth is set to continue, with growth outside London expected to be greatest.
  9. There’s a “Brexit Bonus”. With a lower £ following the Brexit decision, the overseas student market could be set to enjoy another further boost in the medium term. PBSA is even more popular with non-UK students so demand could see another further shift from traditional privately let shared houses (HMO) and university-owned accommodation. 

If large institutions such as Aviva are buying PBSA for their managed funds, it may be worth considering taking a leaf out of their book? Especially when individual student suites can be owned for less than a deposit on some city centre apartments.

Discover more facts and figures in our latest PBSA report.

To get your complimentary copy, just click below… 

[property insight] The illusion of being in control of your property

As a dedicated fan of what we call Passive Income Through Property, one of the main questions I’m faced with from property investors is the issue of control over one’s property.

This is particularly true when speaking with UK landlords who understandably like to run their own show. What do I mean by this?

For example often when I speak to a buy-to-let (BTL) investor about say Hotel Room Investments, the questions that arise immediately run like this:

1. It’s too good to be true. How can you (ie the developer) promise something like a 10% net yield when the average buy to let Gross yield s closer to 6%? And that’s excluding management charges, insurance, agents fee, purchase costs, wear and tear, void periods, etc etc.

2. Even if that’s possible now, says the landlord, how can I guarantee the developer or hotelier can keep this up? I’m relying on the hotelier’s business model and the hotels performance. With my own property, I’m in control of all this!

3. What about my exit strategy? If I want to get out of a buy-to-let I just sell it, and usually for a decent profit.

4. Its far too risky. I know what I like and I like what I know. Haven’t there been some massive train wrecks with these types of property investment, especially overseas?

These are all very reasonable concerns of course, and on the face of it the landlord has some very valid points: After all It’s pretty easy to source and buy a UK residential property pretty much anywhere that isn’t going to be a complete disaster: even a bad decision made now will probably come right in the long term by virtue of capital growth, providing you can stick with it. On the other hand its very easy to buy a bad passive investment without expert guidance. Seems a no-brainer.

What underlies a lot of this thinking is a sense of control through ownership.

But property ownership can easliy give us just the illusion of control. Buying an investment property is one thing, living with it is quite another. 

The BTL control idea is borne out of this kind of thinking:

Principle 1: I can plan my borrowing. Fixed rate mortgages mean predicable borrowing costs. Reality: Swap rates and base rates are utterly outside of our control. There is a Bank of England base rate increase coming. Not today but it will come.

Principal 2: I can adapt or improve my property to increase rental income and property value. Reality: whilst a Good Thing to do, there is a high capital cost to this and both the rental market and resale market depend mostly on macro-economic factors such as employment levels and GDP, all outside of our control.

Principal 3: The Private Rental Sector is too important to UK PLC for the government to jeapodise it. Reality: the recent Summer budget attacked landlords tax situation aggressively, on three counts, arguably for pure political gain. The chancellor was able to do this as the majority of the population (non-landlords) seem to regard landlords as greedy, and the government will gain more support than they lose.

Principal 4: If things get too bad I can always sell up. Reality: if things are bad for you they’re probably bad for everyone, so selling may simply not be an option, just when you need to.

These are just examples, there are many more. In fact just add to this list another column for every supplier to a BTL business, such as block service charges, government regulatory controls, stamp duty, insurance.

The good news is that once property investment is recognised as a whole string of uncontrollables, these can be anticipated to some degree. The risk is still there but stress-testing your property portfolio is essential to survival in the rough and tumble world of BTL.

Passive property investment means seemly relinquishing all of this perceived control, but what are you really sacrificing? The sacrifice is perhaps going to be doing far more work up front when deciding what to invest in. The rewards of getting it right is hassle free property income.

Let me be clear, this is not about the right or the wrong way to invest in property. Buy to let investment can be incredibly lucrative over the longer term and any mistakes made at the buying stage will most likely be rectified in time. Just be mindful that whatever we buy, we do not pull many of the strings at all.

In conclusion, I believe that proper research is the absolute key to dealing with risk and understanding the control issues in any property investment, whether it’s a holiday home in the sun, a room in a Scottish Castle or a tasty rental flat in Harrow.

[insight] Why it’s so important to diversify your property portfolio

Warren Buffett says to invest only in what you can understand. He doesnt mean this as an invitation to laziness since his own example is to move into new areas, having first put in the time and money to research these new ventures thoroughly – and to understand them.

Established wisdom is that diversification of assets is an important investment tool. A carefully chosen balanced portfolio allows you to spread the risk to your portfolio without necessarily reducing the returns. The same number and  value of eggs, but in different baskets.

How does all this relate to property?

Understanding just one form of property investment would I believe be a disservice to your future. But here’s the rub: it’s comfortable to stick with doing what you know; you become an expert with a deep knowledge of your chosen specialist property subject.

UK Buy-to-let investors often concentrate on one aspect as THE way of securing their future income. I’m speaking from personal experience when I say that it is easy to be bitten by the bug of building a buy-to-let portfolio, and just going with what you know.

Buy-to-let alone can feel safe enough to put all the eggs in that basket, but it can be risky as like most investments there are many factors outside of the owners control, for example:

  • Lenders’ and Bank of England interest rate rises
  • Property market collapse and distressed sale of your property 
  • Legislation changes in favour of tenants
  • Lenders changing their tune when times are hard
  • Rogue / destructive tenants

These are all real examples that have happened and have hurt. Many of these can affect your entire Buy-to-let portfolio and, if you’ve sunk everything you have (and can borrow) into it, your future well-being.

Having come through the worse UK property crash in decades, many experienced landlords that survived it realise how close they came to a meltdown and are looking to diversify. They’re not looking to the traditional financial institutions as there is still a deep mistrust of them. These investors know how powerful property investment is so are looking at other ways to invest in more property, but not just more of the same.

What other ways to profit from property?

Fortunately (and partly as a response to the world banking crisis), there are several new and interesting ways to invest in property alongside buy-to-let including:

  • Fractional Ownership of managed commercial property
  • Shared Ownership
  • Property Bonds
  • Crowdfunding
  • Land Purchase
  • Offshore
  • Hotel Room investment

Few of these offer any gearing – 100% of the investment is in cash. Many landlords found themselves stretched by too much borrowing in the credit-fuelled boom of the early “naughties”, so this is often seen as a way of reducing the overall portfolio gearing and exposure to interest rate rises and mortgage lenders’ well … shenanigans.

The other key benefit is that each of these property investments types offer pretty pure Passive Income (something that Buy To Let promises but seldom delivers). Just like picking stocks, you do your research upfront and when satisfied, you invest. Nothing more to do during the lifetime of the investment. And unlike stocks and shares there are no ongoing broker charges that frequently reduce your net returns to the tiny interest rates many have come to accept in the UK.

In essence, don’t be seduced by those who would tell you that Buy To Let is the single key to property prosperity. The stakes of sinking everything into it are high and the hassle factor stays with you as long as you own those properties.

Diversification in property can mitigate these risks now and build you stream of true passive income to enjoy in your dotage in years to come when owning flats and houses is no longer as much fun as it used to be.

With so many flavours of property investment available today, we teach our clients to plan their own mix to match the life they want to lead both now and in the decades ahead: property for income, for growth and indeed for enjoyment.

Mr. Buffett puts it very well: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

I’ll leave you with one example of alternative property investment: fractional ownership. Find out how it works with our essential guide. Just click on the image below to get your copy.