university of toronto student residence buildings

Canadian investors shun student housing

Friday, January 8, 2016

Student housing appears to be a negligible factor in Canadian investment strategies for 2016. Colliers International’s recently released survey of more than 600 real estate investors worldwide finds no Canadian participants with plans to put their money into student housing in the coming year, even though interest in the multi-residential sector remains strong.

The survey’s comparison of investor sentiment in various global regions shows Canadians somewhat out of sync with overall trends, although more closely aligned with their U.S. counterparts than those in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, South Asia or Australia/New Zealand. Notably, three-quarters of the surveyed Canadians flagged new developments, industrial/logistics facilities and shopping centres as preferred investments, while global endorsement of those sectors was considerably lower.

Multi-residential properties also placed high on Canadians’ list — tied with downtown office space — gaining a nod from 63 per cent of survey respondents. U.S. participants expressed the next highest level of confidence in multi-residential, with 42 per cent of investors naming it a preferred sector. In contrast, only 19 per cent of Australians/New Zealanders saw multi-residential as a good investment option for 2016.

Multi-residential investment ranked third among U.K. respondents, with 37 per cent considering it a preferred sector. Meanwhile, U.K. investors’ support for student housing — at 25 per cent — was the highest of any global region. “This reflects the greater maturity and sophistication of the U.K. student housing market and the international appeal of the country’s higher education system,” the Colliers report speculates.

While only Canadians expressed complete disinterest, student housing garners a lower profile in most other regions, ranging from 17 per cent of U.S. investors showing interest to just 4 per cent of investors in Latin America.

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