The private rented sector is expected to be the most attractive asset class in 2018, according to a poll of real estate professionals.

Knight Frank surveyed 200 attendees at its recent Specialist Breakfast and found 94% expected specialist property sector to grow in market share and portfolio weighting this year.

Over half of those surveyed identified the PRS as the most attractive to investors, followed by student property, hotels, healthcare and automotive.

Specialist investment volumes accounted for 27% of the UK commercial property market in 2017 and are forecast to reach almost £20bn this year, according to Knight Frank.

Despite volumes eclipsing investment in the retail and industrial sectors, only a third of those polled agreed that specialist property is “the new industrial”.

Foreign buyers make up a third of the specialist property market but more than half of those surveyed were concerned that Brexit uncertainty could lead to reduced overseas investment.

Shaun Roy, head of specialist property investment at Knight Frank, said: “The appetite for specialist property investment is stronger than ever.

“We continue to see solid and sustained demand, driven by the desire from investors for durable long-income investments with good covenants, resulting in record-breaking numbers, with £72.1bn transacted in specialist property assets since 2006.

“We expect this demand to continue despite the wider commercial property market potentially seeing a slowdown, with shrewd asset selection leading to more reliable returns from specialist property.”