According to Savills, the total investment volume for purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) in Europe reached €11.7 bn in the first three quarters of 2022, a 130% increase on the same period in 2021 and a record high.
Investor interest in the sector is being driven by a rising number of students attending university, as well as strong growth in international students who heavily rely on PBSA.
Savills expects this growth to continue over the coming years, as the number of young people in Europe (15-19 year olds) is forecast to rise by 5.8% by 2027.
At the same time, many European markets have a significant undersupply of PBSA, which is driving strong rental growth.
The average provision rate - the total number of beds divided by the total number of students - across European cities is currently only 12.5%, down from last year’s 13% figure.
Lydia Brissy, director European Research at Savills, said: 'The share of forward-funding deals as a percentage of total European PBSA investment has been steadily rising over the past five years, accounting for 30% of the total volume in 2022. Forward-funding deals are typical in countries with developing PBSA markets and limited available stock.'
Across the European cities Savills monitors, approximately 14,500 PBSA new beds are expected to be delivered in 2022, not enough to compensate for the increase in student numbers.
On average, across Europe, the public student housing market represents 63% of total PBSA beds, meaning the vast majority of existing stock is outdated and of relatively poor quality compared to newer private stock.
This supply/demand imbalance is attracting more and more investors to the sector. According to a recent survey conducted by Savills involving real estate investors with total EME assets under management exceeding €500 bn, European PBSA is one of the top five sectors that investors are looking to target over the next 12 months.
Savills said that the average prime PBSA yield across Europe currently stands at 4.15%. This ranges from 3.5% in Copenhagen to 6.00% in Seville. Yields have remained stable over the past 12 months.
Marcus Roberts, head of Europe - Savills operational capital markets, added: 'The PBSA sector has continued to show that it is counter-cyclical and provides a good opportunity for investors to balance their portfolios in times of economic downturn.
'It is a strong asset class and the positive sentiment in this sector demonstrates the confidence investors have in its resilience and ability to provide secure returns.'