High percentage of Chinese students rely on their universities for guidance with accommodation
Engagement between Chinese students and UK estate agents is currently low, but with a new survey indicating that around 6% of Chinese students across the country are interested in purchasing property, estate agents would be cheered to learn that this represents a potential market value of £1.27bn, according to recent findings by Language Brand Communication.
The survey, which interviewed 1,000 students across eight cities in the UK, found that Chinese international students were likely to select properties that are considered safe, secure and within locations that are in close proximity to university campuses.
“I anticipated that the figure would be much lower because a property is such a big purchase for a graduate,” Managing Director of Language Brand Communication, Ben Hui, told The PIE News. “Besides, as a non-UK citizen, I thought that it would be hard for them to get a mortgage. Therefore there’s an assumption they will be buying in cash.”
Himself an ex-international student who set up an agency helping businesses broker the cultural divide, Hui explained that “asset diversification and migration” are often cited as the main reasons for Chinese investing in UK properties. “This may mean the wealthy Chinese middle-class are buying UK properties via their children studying here,” he said.
Hui was also surprised that Manchester performed so much better than neighbouring cities such as Leeds and Liverpool as a sought-after city.
The survey has also revealed that a high percentage of Chinese students rely on their universities for guidance with accommodation (29%), and 26% used recommendations from a friend, while only 13% used a dedicated property website, posing a number of challenges for property providers.
Key emerging pull factors are private kitchens, private laundry facilities, and a choice of room types. On-site gyms and upgraded Wi-Fi are services that students may pay increased rent for, but flat screen televisions, on-site cafes or programmed social activities are unlikely to sway a student’s decision.
The report reveals that while price is important, this does not mean that Chinese students are simply looking for the cheapest deal: “Chinese students are prepared to pay above average prices, providing they feel they are getting a good deal for their money.”
9% of Chinese students in major UK cities would consider buying a property
Among its recommendations, Language Brand Communication advises cautiously finding ways to gain trust among the Chinese international student community. Essentially a presence on social media sites is key and translating information on websites into Chinese will also draw in parents, a key decision maker group.
“With one in three international students being Chinese, there is no doubt about the significance of this target market,” said Hui. “We hope that the results can help student accommodation providers and developers to understand the Chinese students market and adjust their marketing message accordingly.”