Looking to get a foothold in the student buy-to-let market? Here’s all you need to know about property at the higher echelons of academia.

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  • Are you a parent mulling a property investment for your teenager’s stint at university, or a buy-to-let investor in search of your next opportunity?

    If the answer’s yes, you’ve come to the right place.

    We’ve taken the top 10 universities (according to the Times Higher Education ranking) and pulled together some key credentials for each local property market.

    1. OXFORD

    University of Oxford

    Average property value: £473,724

    Property value change in last 5 years: £92,136, or 24.1%

    Average asking rent per month: £1,963

    Yield: 4.2%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    Head for the area known locally as the Golden Triangle which sits between the Headington, Cowley and Iffley roads. You’ll find an array of different-sized Victorian housing as well as all the student life essentials from bars, cafés and clubs, to bicycles and second-hand furniture shops.

    What the local agents say:

    Charles Wellbelove, area sales director at the Oxford branch of Hamptons International, says: “The buy-to-let market here is thriving due to the high net worth families and academics attracted to the city. Oxford continues to offer good annual yields and long-term capital growth.”

    Home for sale on Iffley Road, Oxford.

    Above: development opportunity for sale on Iffley Road, Oxford.


    University of Cambridge

    Average property value: £415,511

    Property value change in last 5 years: £82,847, or 25%

    Average asking rent per month: £1,135

    Yield: 3.8%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    Your best bet is the area around Mill Road, south east of Cambridge. You’ll find plenty of buy-to-let options here amid a concentration of pubs, takeaway jaunts, cafés and independent shops.  

    What the local agents say:

    Sarah Bush, head of lettings at Cheffins in Cambridge, says: “The recent Stamp Duty changes on second homes have constricted supply in Cambridge, and pushed up rents by around 15% just since the start of 2016. As well as from students, rental demand comes from the increasing number of big corporations moving to the city.”

    Semi-detached house for sale in Cambridge.

    Above: semi-detached house for sale on Abbey Street, Cambridge.

    3. LONDON

    Imperial College London/ University College London/ London School of Economics and Political Science/ King’s College London

    Average property value: £634,724

    Property value change in last 5 years: £167,401, or 35.8%

    Average asking rent per month: £2,735

    Yield: 3.7%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    Property on the doorstep of these top four London universities is über expensive. But students can travel, so try ‘up-and-coming’ neighbourhoods instead such as Woolwich and Deptford, both in south east London. Stratford in east London also offers (relatively) affordable property as well as good transport links – and plenty of entertainment.

    What the local agents say:

    Jeff Doble, founder and chief executive of Dexters, says: “London is a massive potential market for student rental because the city’s universities simply don’t own enough accommodation.

    "And, now that parental guarantors are written into student property contracts, students are generally seen as better tenants than young professionals who are new to London and often without job security.”

    Andrew McClure of Arm Residential at Euston, adds: “Ex-council properties are an attractive proposition as they are competitively priced to buy and the rooms are well proportioned.”

    Flat for sale in east London.

    Above: flat for sale in Stratford, London. 


    University of Edinburgh

    Average property value: £264,839

    Property value change in last 5 years: £36,490, or 16%

    Average asking rent per month: £1,269

    Yield: 5.1%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    For student property in the Scottish capital, look at Marchmont and Newington – which sit in the heart of the city between Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier universities. Leith on the seafront is also worth considering and – for more upmarket student addresses – plump for New Town.

    What the local agents say:

    Brian Moran, lettings director for Your Move in Scotland, says: “At 8.7% higher than last year, rents on two-bedroom properties in Edinburgh are rising the fastest. Rents on these homes now average £686 per month with yields running at 9%. Around 70% of all properties are let within weeks of being listed for rent.”

    Flat for sale in Edinburgh.

    Above: flat for sale in Newington, Edinburgh.


    University of Manchester

    Average property value: £163,598

    Property value change in last 5 years: £24,587, or 17.7%

    Average asking rent per month: £858

    Yield: 5.4%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    Follow the traditional student route south east, to areas such as Fallowfield, Rusholme and Withington. Alternatively, opt for Whitworth Street West in the city centre, which is close to the university.

    What the local agents say:

    Glynn Rudge, senior branch manager at Reeds Rains, Manchester & Salford Quays, says: “While there are quiet periods – often from November to early January – rental demand in Manchester can treble from the end of July to mid-September, often outstripping supply and pushing up rents by around £50 per month.”

    Home for sale in Fallowfield, Manchester.

    Above: block of flats for sale in Manchester's Fallowfield.

    6. BRISTOL

    University of Bristol

    Average property value: £291,081

    Property value change in last 5 years: £58,539, or 25.2%

    Average asking rent per month: £1,044

    Yield: 4.1%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    Zone in on the student-friendly area of Redland in the north east of Bristol. Shops, bars, cafés and restaurants line the busy Whiteladies Road – which runs between here and Clifton – and, a little further along, Cotham Hill.

    The roads leading off the eclectic Chandos Road (such as Stanley, Lansdowne and Brighton) also offer ideal student digs. And if your budget’s on the larger side, try neighbouring Clifton.

    What the local agents say:

    Rupert Oliver at Fine & Country in Bristol, says: “Bristol has performed consistently well in the last few years in terms of capital growth, rising 14.7% in the year to June 2016. Rents remain buoyant, fuelled by both students and young professionals, and there are little or no voids between academic years. Parental investors often retain houses as investment vehicles once their children have left university.”

    Home for sale in Bristol.

    Above: flat for sale in Redland, Bristol.

    7. DURHAM

    University of Durham

    Average property value: £154,509

    Property value change in last 5 years: £14,158, or 10.1%

    Average asking rent per month: £800

    Yield: 5%

    Student-friendly hotspots:

    The cathedral city of Durham is pretty compact so you won’t have to look far for hotspots. Top on students’ wish lists though are typically Church Street, the Viaduct, Neville’s Cross and Gilesgate – all of which are close to the action.

    What the local agents say: Richard Brough, branch manager Bridgfords north east, says: “Durham has a vast range of properties from city centre apartments to multi-occupancy houses. But within the DH1 area, which includes Nevilles Cross, Gilesgate and the city centre, demand is at its highest with property achieving anything from £75 to £150 per person, per week.”

    Property for sale in Durham.

    Above: flat for sale in Gilesgate, Durham.

    We’ve calculated the yield by taking the average (median) rental asking prices for each area (annually) and dividing it by average (median) asking prices. The yield does not take into account purchase expenses or ongoing costs. 

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