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PBSA and Beyond: Why UK Property Developers are Attracting Attention from Chinese Investors

April 24, 2023

The UK property market has long been a popular choice for investors around the world, but recently, Chinese investors have been showing an increased interest in this sector. 

In particular, Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) has emerged as a key area of focus for these savvy investors. But why is PBSA so appealing to Chinese buyers? And what other opportunities are there in the UK property market that continue to attract attention from across the globe? 

In this article, we explore the growing trend and delve into why UK property developments are becoming hot targets for Chinese investment.

What is PBSA and Why Is It Attracting Chinese Investors?

PBSA, or purpose-built student accommodation, is a type of real estate asset that is specifically designed and built to serve the needs of students. It is a rapidly growing asset class in the UK and is attracting attention from Chinese investors for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, PBSA offers attractive yields compared to other types of property investments. For example, while the average annual yield on buy-to-let properties in the UK is around just under 4%, gross yields on PBSA can notably reach up to 8%.

In addition, PBSA is seen as a relatively safe investment. The student population is considered fairly stable due to the need for steady accommodation while studying, meaning there is less risk of void periods and rent arrears. 

Finally, Chinese investors are increasingly attracted to PBSA because many Chinese parents are keen to send their children to study overseas – with the UK being one of the most popular destinations. By investing in PBSA, they can not only potentially benefit from financial returns but also help to secure stable accommodation for their child while at university.

The General UK Property Market’s Appeal to Chinese Investors

In recent years, the UK property market has become increasingly appealing to Chinese investors. A number of factors have contributed to this trend, including the UK’s stable political and economic environment. 

With financial gain being a key focus for any investor, one of the most important factors for investing in the UK property market is the potential for capital growth. The UK’s housing market has outperformed many other global markets in recent years, with average house prices increasing by 7.8% over the year to June 2022. This has led to significant returns for investors who have put their money into UK property.

Looking ahead, there is no reason to believe that the UK property market’s appeal to Chinese investors will abate any time soon. With prices expected to continue rising in the coming years, the UK looks set to remain an attractive destination for Chinese investment.

How Can a UK Property Developer Seeking Chinese Investors Maximise Opportunities?

As the world becomes increasingly globalised, opportunities for investment are becoming more and more diverse. For savvy investors, this presents an unique opportunity to capitalise on different markets and maximise their returns.

Due to a variety of factors – including the weakening of the pound following Brexit, the relatively stable political environment, and a strong rental market – UK property is seen as a safe and lucrative investment by many Chinese investors.

So, how can UK developers maximise these Chinese investment opportunities with regards to PBSA and property in general? Here are some tips:

1. Do your research

As a UK property developer seeking Chinese investors, the importance of doing your research into Chinese property investors cannot be overstated. Knowing what types of properties will appeal to Chinese buyers, understanding their motivations and preferences, as well as having an awareness of any cultural practices can greatly improve one's chances for success. 

2. Promote your purpose-built student accommodation effectively

PBSA in the UK presents an appealing option for Chinese investors. With an increasing number of students (local and international) enrolling in British universities, PBSA has long-term potential as the sector continues to grow over time – also providing attractive returns on investment. By gathering and effectively sharing the correct data, Chinese investors will be far more confident in their decision to invest.

3. Use the Correct Marketing Tools

When looking for the most effective property marketing tool in China, there is a clear front-runner. With the latest statistics showing that in 2023 there were 827.2 million WeChat users in China, WeChat is an ideal platform to market UK property to Chinese buyers due to its ability to target and engage with potential customers in a variety of ways including images, audio, and video clips. 

In addition, WeChat Mini Programs offer mini-apps that are built within WeChat and that can market a brand to a target audience without the hassle of having to set up a Chinese website. 

The Investment Future Looks Bright

In summary, the UK property market is a lucrative investment opportunity for Chinese investors. With its strong fundamentals and attractive yields, it presents attractive options such as with the promising PBSA sector. In fact, the combination of solid returns and a secure investment opportunity makes PBSA an ideal choice for savvy investors looking to expand their portfolios abroad. 

For any UK property developer seeking Chinese investors, a bit of research into the motivations and preferences of these savvy investors, coupled with utilising effective marketing tools such as WeChat, provides a persuasive base from which to maximise the potential.


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