April 27, 2023.
The past few weeks have seen high anxiety among investors in commercial real estate as the 2022 surge in interest rates, the rise of remote work, and a massive shift in people’s lifestyles have pushed the sector into a downturn. But across the alternative investment universe, one top advisor sees a pocket of overlooked potential.
“Compared to multi-residential, self-storage, and senior housing, I think student housing has always been the poor child in the larger family of real estate investments,” says Francis Sabourin, portfolio manager and investment advisor at Francis Sabourin Wealth Management with Richardson Wealth. “Nobody has really cared about it in Canada, especially because it’s so fragmented.”
Purpose-built student accommodation, Sabourin says, is a well-developed asset class in the USA, UK, France, and Australia. While many Canadian pension funds have exposure to student housing, they have given short shrift to the domestic PBSA sector as the opportunities for investment are too scattered.