Samuel Vetrak, CEO of BONARD, has presented key data and insights for student housing asset class in Europe for the upcoming academic year 2020/21. The data were presented on the webinar organised by Real Asset Investment Briefings. Vetrak was further joined by the panel including experts Charles Combet (Aareal Bank), Luke Nolan (Student.com), Lambros Reppas (Corestate Capital) and Rob Waterhouse (GSA).
BONARD’s extensive research shows that the sector’s fundamentals are all still in place. International students want to resume or start their studies, the problem is not lack of demand but rather difficulties travelling or visa restrictions.
As Vetrak mentioned during the presentation, universities have reacted swiftly to the pandemic and it is expected that, just as they closed down their campuses before governments imposed the lockdown, they will resume lessons before the economy returns to normal. In the short term there are likely to be more domestic students, but international students will return as soon as they are able. The investment market has also shown its belief in the sector.
‘There have been no divestments, which shows that the counter-cyclical, defensive nature of the sector is playing well with investors,’ said Vetrak. ‘Two-thirds of stakeholders continue to seek opportunities and pipeline projects continue as scheduled, with over 80% on time’.
The sense of optimism seems to be shared by market experts. The results of a snap poll done during the webinar show that 69% of respondents feel more positive about the student housing sector than they did in March, with only 31% saying their outlook has not changed since then.
The impact of the epidemic on the sector will vary significantly between countries, delegates heard. From a global perspective we’ll see shifts in destinations and Canada and Europe will emerge as the biggest winners. ‘Canada will benefit from the decline in the US, while within Europe the UK, Germany, France and Poland will remain strong, Spain will regain its position and Italy will keep rising up the ranks’, said Samuel Vetrak.