Aareal Bank launches dedicated team for alternative living financing

Aareal Bank has announced plans to launch a dedicated 'alternative living' department, in response to rising demand and the growing importance of alternative living concepts.

The new team will be headed by Benjamin Walter, who will join Aareal Bank from Union Investment Real Estate as of 1 October. The new team’s purpose is to further expand the bank’s financing activities in student housing (purpose-built student accommodation, PBSA) and co-living, leveraging Aareal’s specialist expertise.

'As the number of students at universities and colleges around the world rises, so does the demand for high-quality student accommodation,' said Bettina Graef-Parker, managing director special property finance at Aareal Bank. 'A structural shortage of supply, combined with significant increases in the number of students and their mobility have drawn the attention of project developers and investors alike to this market.

'As a result, student housing was the only property market segment to see consistently rising transaction volumes in Europe in 2022, reaching a new record high of €12.4 bn.'

On co-living, Graef-Parker said: 'In Europe, about €1.2 bn has been invested in this emerging market segment since 2020. As the concept is just getting started in many regional markets, we expect dynamic growth, such as we have seen already in the UK and in France.'

Walter has extensive experience in commercial property finance and investment, with a particular expertise in operational real estate. Most recently, he headed the investment management hospitality international (ex-DACH) team at Union Investment Real Estate.

He now returns to Aareal Bank, having worked in various roles in the bank’s hotel financing team between 2006 and 2019. Michelle Weiss, who has been jointly responsible for student housing and co-living to date, will thus be able focus on managing the bank’s hotel financing team. Hotel financings account for 35% of Aareal Bank's loan portfolio.

Aareal Bank has been offering financing for student housing (PBSA) and co-living properties for some time, and describes itself as 'one of the leading European lenders' in this area.


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