A late surge from students wanting accommodation in London and the Home
Counties led to the number of viewing figures reaching a 10-year high,
The research from Knight Frank, the real estate firm, found the viewing
figures for the lettings market come after July's numbers for new
prospective tenants fell by 26% compared with last year.
However, the arrival of exam results for students in the UK and overseas
led to a mini-surge late in August from those students who were holding out
to see what their grades were before searching for student property in the
The firm's head of residential, Tom Bill, said: "Some students were holding
out until late August before deciding what to do, with universities
providing online learning options until Christmas.
‘July was quieter than normal’
"Students account for nearly 25% of the market, and July was quieter than
normal with uncertainty over when the new academic year would start."
He pointed out that many students have been working for several years with
the ambition to earn a place at a London university.
In addition, flight schedules are now returning to normality which will
help support demand from students wanting accommodation in the final
quarter of 2020.
The report highlights that there is little evidence that the mini-surge was
down to corporate activity with relocation packages not currently being a
priority for many employers.
Mr Bill added: "London will for overseas students, remain an attractive
destination irrespective how long it takes for universities to return to
"The demand is strong due to cultural and academic reasons and there could
be a few more seasonal records yet to be broken."
Opportunity for student sector growth
Meanwhile, one real estate investment expert says that the exam U-turn in
August has delivered an excellent opportunity for student sector growth in
James Duncan of Winckworth Sherwood has written in one investment magazine
that the student accommodation sector looked to be badly shaken by the
But now, just a few months later, student landlords ‘have reasons to be
In addition to the exam grades being reviewed, the cap on student numbers
has been lifted which means universities are striving to deliver
opportunities for students.
He also highlights restrictions on socialising and extra-curricular
activities and online learning may yet have an impact.
Student landlords who can offer flexible living space
However, Mr Duncan highlights that those student landlords who can offer
flexible living space that is targeted at the post-lockdown landscape, will
be able to differentiate their offering from other private landlords.
One issue he highlights is that private student landlords should also
consider offering Coronavirus break clauses in their contracts.