UK student property proves a flexible investment for Asian buyers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 6:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 6:38pm

Sitting in a central London food outlet the other day I noticed how most of the other diners there were young Chinese. This is part of a growing trend that has seen rising numbers of mainland Chinese and Hong Kong students attending British universities, independent schools, language schools and vocational colleges, as well as participating in professional training.

This in turn has resulted in increasing numbers of Chinese parents buying homes for their children studying in Britain.

Aside from providing somewhere for their children to live, owning a student property benefits parents financially – they can save on university accommodation fees, potentially benefit from capital appreciation and earn income from letting-out the property after their children have finished using it.

These student-home-buying parents help underpin housing markets in some university towns. The second biggest group of international students at Oxford University comprises students from China and Hong Kong This is reflected in the city's housing market, with the number of Hong Kong, Chinese, Malaysian and Singaporean home-buyers in the city’s best residential district, Central North Oxford, more than doubling from 5 per cent in 2007 to 12 per cent in 2012, according to consultancy Knight Frank.

Asian buyer interest has helped prime Oxford property prices rise 2.3 per cent in the first three quarters of 2012, Knight Frank reports. In most other non-London locations prices are falling.

While British parents buy homes for their children studying at university, it is not to the same extent as Hong Kong parents. As the parents of the majority of students in British colleges, if British parents’ enthusiasm for student property purchases matched that of Hong Kong parents it could help lift housing markets in many parts of the country beyond Oxford.