Key insights on Nordic market trends : NSBO Conference 2024

April 25, 2024


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The Nordic PBSA landscape is an intriguing topic of discussion for investors, operators, and housing providers, who have shown a growing interest in exploring the dynamics of the student living environment at various industry events, such as this year's NSBO Conference, themed "A new normal: Challenges and opportunities for Nordic student housing."

During this event that took place this April in Copenhagen, Kelly-anne Watson, Managing Director of The Class Foundation, offered invaluable insights on different European student housing market and investment trends.

Key points of her presentation included an overview on some popular study destinations, drawing attention on the dynamics of European PBSA investments, and highlighting the student demand trends in Europe and in The Nordics.

The Nordic real estate market can be seen as a complex business case for investors, characterised by a steady growth trajectory in student numbers, as more internationals students are coming to study in the region and looking for this type of housing, contrasting with a lack of history in building new hybrid models you see across other key markets in Europe.  

Some main takeaways of this conference include the pressing concerns surrounding the scarcity of social and private housing developments in recent years. This shortage not only fails to meet crucial housing needs, but also underscores the urgency of reevaluating typology preferences.  

Above is a slide courtesy of Per Juulsen, who was a speaker at the NSBO Conference 2024. The top reads "Status on construction activity in Aarhus". The first graph on the top left translates to "Under construction - dwellings (all developers), Aarhus Municipality". The second graph on the bottom left translates to "Construction under construction - social housing, Aarhus Municipality". Find the full presentation here.

Moreover, while domestic students express a strong preference towards individual flats or studios, there is a growing concern within the industry on the detrimental effects of isolation on mental health, especially in Nordic countries.

The MHI-5 heatmap from the Student Living Monitor 2023. 60 is the threshold for "OK" mental health. Finland rates an average of 52.1, and Denmark an average of 59.7.

As a follow-up, Kelly-anne questions whether the industry should prioritise building what students need above anything else: “Should we be building what they need and not what they want? And how do you do that effectively without creating assets that they don't want to live in?”

She invites the decision-makers to explore and develop some realistic and effective strategies of their offering in the future.

Next month, The Class Foundation is hosting a FREE online webinar on the student housing market, which will include a data insight by Knight Frank.

Click here to sign up.

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