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SG What drives student living decisions

Property Here - Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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By Andrew Batt:

With a growing number of Singaporeans investing in student accommodation overseas, it’s important to get inside the mind of students and understand what drives their decision on where to live whilst studying.

A leading UK student accommodation website - www.accommodationforstudents.com - has surveyed 1,500 students through the country to discover how they find suitable accommodation, what factors determine their choice, how satisfied they are with their accommodation and their relationship with their landlord and letting agent.

The study revealed that students use a mix of resources to find accommodation. Offline, the University accommodation office and letting agents are key resources. Online, Google is the most used tool (and the most used resource overall) with 52 percent of respondents using it to search for accommodation and 39 percent using www.accommodationforstudents.com.

Of most interest to landlords is that students who live in private, shared housing are more likely to use online resources to find a property than the University accommodation office, highlighting the need for landlords to have a strong online presence to appeal to the 90 percent of students who have a smartphone.

When looking at where to live, the most important factor to a 58 percent majority of students was proximity to University, and yet price is the most influential factor when it comes to making that final property choice.

A total of 61.8 percent of students who responded to the survey considered this to be the case, and those in private accommodation were generally more satisfied that they were getting value for money than those in private or university halls of residence. Some 70 percent of students feel that bills inclusive rents are important as this helps them keep track of their finances.

The next most influential factor was the standard of upkeep of a property. Students do not seem to prioritise things like space, the standard of decor, or even the landlord when selecting a property, yet 88 percent considered a fast internet connection the most important property feature.

Others included the availability of good storage space, large and functional communal spaces for socialising and for those in private rented accommodation, the availability of double beds.

The majority of students (66 percent) live in properties which were managed by landlords and letting agents, and almost 60 percent of these had a positive relationship with them. However, students reported a wide range of issues with landlords - the most frequently cited related to communication issues; either a perceived lack of response on maintenance issues (40 percent) or a general lack of communication (32.5 percent). A huge 94 percent feel that accredited properties are a good thing.  

A significant minority of students claim not to have experienced any problems at all (36 percent), and 51 percent of students felt their deposit had been unfairly withheld.

Simon Thompson, founder of the website, said: “Understanding students and their motivations has always been central to the way we operate. Our findings did not seek to generalise students, as many have very individual experiences, but instead were designed to help us and our beneficiaries to better understand the changing requirements of the modern student.

“Not only did the results reveal some surprising findings on topics such as finance, accommodation, university and course choice, accommodation and future aspirations, but some important information for landlords to take into consideration when approaching this market."

Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email andrew@allproperty.com.sg