Harris Associates launches sale of nationwide PBSA portfolio

A Russell Group-dominated portfolio of five assets in student cities around the country has been launched to market by Harris Associates.

The Goods Corner student accommodation development in Edinburgh - part of The Collection portfolio for sale with Harris Associates | PBSA News
The Goods Corner student accommodation development in Edinburgh - part of The Collection portfolio for sale with Harris Associates.

Harris Associates has launched ‘The Collection’, a portfolio of five assets and 795 beds, in chronically undersupplied student markets around the UK.

As the UK’s purpose-built student-accommodation (PBSA) sector bounces back from 2023, with investment surging five-fold year-on-year in Q1 (from £148m to nearly £750m), The Collection represents a rare acquisition opportunity.

The Collection is a high-quality institutional scale portfolio with refurbishment and rental reversion potential. Harris Associates are seeking offers in excess of £84m, representing a net initial yield of 6.37%.

The Collection portfolio

Included in the portfolio are Exeter One – a 219 bedroom asset in Exeter, The Union – a 187 bedroom site in Leamington Spa providing accommodation for students at Warwick University, the 108 bedroom Goods Corner in Edinburgh, a 146 bedroom asset called City Heights in Cardiff, and the 135 bedroom Dover Street in Leicester.

Of the five assets, four serve Russell Group universities, and the fifth is in Leicester – city with a large student population. Rents have risen sharply across the locations, driven by a chronic undersupply of quality rental properties.

The Collection’s assets all boast the same exceptionally high occupancy and proximity to their respective town centres and universities. The quality of the offering is reflected in the portfolio having an average Google review score of 4.5 stars.

Several assets across the portfolio also have the potential for substantially increased rental incomes with some refurbishments and renovations. Over the past two and a half years, construction costs have increased by over 30% – making new developments challenging. As such, the asking price for The Collection is far below replacement costs, providing a unique opportunity as rents at this level would not be viable in newly built PBSA scheme.

Harris Associates is launching the portfolio with a trailblazing marketing campaign, created by the company’s in-house marketing agency, Harris Studios. The campaign is spearheaded by a cinematic video, supported by a custom website and ‘day in the life’ styled videos.

“We are delighted to introduce The Collection, a portfolio of high quality accommodation in some of the UK’s most sought-after student markets. The Collection offers a chance for investors to acquire a stable portfolio, producing steady rental yields in locations that rarely appear on the market.

“The launch of The Collection coincides with the rapid expansion of Harris Associates’ market share as more global funds, developers, and investors are eager to embrace a vision that exceptional marketing delivers cutting-edge sales campaigns to boost investor interest by spotlighting the location, lifestyle and the end consumer in a digestible, interactive format.

“This portfolio is united by the strength of the locations, student reviews, occupancy rates and local amenities. An offering of this quality deserves truly best-in-class investor outreach, which is why Harris Studios has created one of the most innovative marketing campaigns the property industry has ever seen.”

Jamie Harris, Head of Student Accommodation at Harris Associates

Harris Associates also launched an interactive Netflix-styled website. It aims to redefine the digital presence in the real estate sector. The unveiling marks a significant milestone for the company.