As property website Zoopla's latest Rent vs Buy Index indicates, it is now cheaper to buy property than to rent in 94% of Britain's largest towns. Consequently, it is of no surprise that estate agents have reported a sharp rise in the number of parents buying a property for their son or daughter whilst they are studying at university. Furthermore, property prices in many university cities have fallen over the last few years and, as such, some parents are recognising it as an opportunity to make a savvy investment.
Whilst halls of residence were once cheap and cheerful, students now frequently report that accommodation fees absorb the majority of their student loan, leaving little money spare to spend on educational materials, and adding to the long list of debts that they eventually graduate with.
When Dana and Dessy Harris of Brockham in Surrey began preparing for their son, Elliott, to go off to Canterbury University in September, they were staggered at the accommodation costs he was set to incur particularly given his degree in architecture is a seven year course. With the rent for student accommodation in Canterbury ranging from between £400-£500 per month, they decided to explore other options.
Dana, a surveyor in the building industry, was surprised to discover that rental payments could be so high outside London, and so, along with his wife, Dessy, who runs her own hairdressing business, they started to view some second hand flats within Canterbury. Unimpressed with the limited stock available, the couple decided a new build flat might be a better option, given new build properties have the added benefits of lower maintenance and running costs.
"When we visited Berkeley's Kingsbrook Park development we were immediately impressed with the range of apartments on offer. It is in a great location within easy walking distance of the university. The generous proportions of the apartments and the high specification and quality of the fixtures and fittings included in the asking price meant we were getting far better value for money than the other new build development we had viewed in the area," said Dana.
They decided to make further enquiries about reserving an apartment and looked into the comparable costs of monthly rent for halls of residence versus the repayments on a mortgage.
"As repayment rates are currently low, we concluded that buying a flat at Kingsbrook Park would be a far greater investment for us as a family. We chose to fund the purchase by remortgaging against our existing property.
"We know that Berkeley is a solid and reliable developer, so we are confident in the build quality of our new home. It is our hope long term that should our property benefit with a rise in the market, any potential increase in value/profit could be used to contribute towards paying off any eventual student loan, if required," added Dana.
"We have already visited the apartment a few times. It gives us peace of mind knowing it is a well built, secure apartment and will be low maintenance because it is a brand new property. Elliot can share the apartment with friends during term time, and we will be able to use it for weekend visits and holidays," concluded Dana.
Local estate agent, Anthony Ludkins of Connells, added: "Given that Canterbury has two universities, there is stiff competition for rented accommodation, which in turn has driven up monthly rent. Essentially, it is a landlord's market. Whilst not all parents are in a position to invest in a second property, those who can are advised to consider it as, long term, a mortgage could prove cheaper than three to seven years' rent. Given that some of the apartments at Kingsbrook Park have a second and third bedroom, parents could even consider renting the second room out to a student friend of their son or daughter, and in turn make a more immediate profit."
Situated in the historic city of Canterbury in a tranquil riverside location, Kingsbrook Park is a collection of one, two and three bedroom apartments and three and four bedroom houses. The site is bordered on three sides by the River Stour and boasts stunning views of Canterbury's ancient Cathedral.
The riverside homes enjoy a prime location in a city steeped in 2000 years of rich history. Set amid landscaped lawns on the banks of the River Stour, these timeless homes provide the ultimate urban retreat.