It’s back to school soon and nobody is deluding themselves that anything other than an extremely challenging term lies ahead.
Now the headmaster Boris Johnson has instigated a staff walk-out, we students will have to fend for ourselves. But this is not an opportunity to abandon the democratic principles of this institution and allow it to descend into Lord of the Flies anarchy. No. This is an opportunity to throw ourselves headlong into our studies to ensure we achieve the grades we want. As head girl, I have consulted with the prefects and these are the subjects we think property students should focus on:
Mixed-use: It is the course everyone has been clamouring to get on to. Such has been the demand that the school has added classes to the RESI curriculum next month – on topics such as ‘How mixed-use can we go?’ and ‘The design challenge: visions of the resi-led, mixed-use schemes of the future’ (see coursework submissions here). We also write about mixed-use all the time in the school paper, this week reporting on Fusion Students’ mix of student housing and a hotel (no doubt intended to stop them treating their parents’ homes like one).
Retirement living: Another in-demand course is retirement living. A number of investors and developers are on this course, attracted by the sector’s growth potential and relatively high returns. Schroders and Octopus have entered into a JV with retirement village developer Audley Group, for instance, to develop four sites across England with a gross development value of £400m – marking Schroders’ first push into the retirement living sector.
Student accommodation: It is still a very popular subject, but interest in student housing is not quite as hot as it was. In our latest poll, more than half of respondents said they thought the sector had peaked. The £600m paid by DWS for a Vita Student portfolio certainly raised a few eyebrows and some are sceptical about the £450m price tag Student Castle has slapped on its portfolio.
Flexible offices: WeWork continues to dominate the syllabus of this still wildly popular course. However, the subject should be approached with a degree of caution as this week’s story about an IWG subsidiary appointing administrators to close an underperforming serviced office in Birmingham attests. There are also lingering questions over the robustness of the model in a recession. There is probably too much serviced office space in London; most corporates use it as overspill, which is the first thing to go when times get hard; and the banks that have piled into the sector will just as quickly bail out if they have to.
Industrial: It used to be a doddle to do well in industrial. These days it is not quite so easy. Industrial deal volumes have slowed sharply this year as investors struggle to justify the exceptionally low yields involved.
Retail: Interesting subject, but starting to look like a dead language. Plus it is CVA exam after CVA exam. That said, students with an aptitude for innovation may well succeed where others have failed. HMV is poised to open a new flagship experiential store in Birmingham, specialising in vinyl, and everyone at school is into vinyl these days.