Could Fergie be the latest parent-landlord as Beatrice looks for a student home?

Like millions of teenagers and young adults across the country, it seems that Princess Beatrice now has to get her thinking cap on and start making arrangements for the start of her university career. After indulging in what has almost become a rite-passage for students-be, the year-out trip to Thailand and its Full Moon parties, the 19-year old has started looking into possible living arrangements for the forthcoming academic year, which will see her begin a history degree at London’s Goldsmith’s College.

Not surprisingly for someone who is fifth in line to the throne, student halls or shared terrace houses do not figure in Beatrice’s plans, but rather, if recent reports are to believed, she has her eye set on something a little less Royale Family and a bit more Royal Family. According to media rumours, the Princess has been making enquiries about a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house in the prestigious Belgravia area of the capital, on a street that has been home to a number of the country’s top politicians over the years. Apparently, the price tag on this property is £4.25 million, a far cry from the weekly rent that most of her classmates will be paying, even if she is only likely to put down a portion of this up-front.

As a source close to the Royal told the Mail on Sunday: "Beatrice has been looking at properties around Central and South-West London. The search has been going on for months.

"I think it’s unlikely she’s going to be spending anything like £4.25 million. I’d have thought £1 million is more likely."

Even royal students sometimes need a financial boost from the family

Fortunately for her, Beatrice was born into one of the world’s wealthiest families and, even though her mother is now more readily associated with New York or Hollywood than Buckingham Palace, she has sufficient resources to ensure that her studies are not hampered by financial worries. In fact, a growing number of students are now being given a helping hand by parents who feel their money is better spent buying a property for their offspring to live in than pay rent to some private student digs landlord. One notable example was that of Tony and Cherie Blair who almost landed themselves in political hot water after they purchased a pair of flats in Bristol, both to give their student son a place to stay as well as for personal investment purposes.

However, it is not just the parents of the Great and the Good choosing to invest in student accommodation. According to many money experts, it makes sound financial sense to look into getting a buy-let mortgage in student towns, particularly for those who have enjoyed growing equity on their own homes over recent years.

Unlike normal buy-let landlords, those investing in the student accommodation sector will benefit from almost constant tenant demand as the government pushes through with its policy of getting half of all young people into tertiary education.

Student buy-let brings more than just peace of mind

Paul Collins, property editor of Buy Association, explains: "Buying near the university cities would be quite a good investment at the moment because of the amount of students and it’s not so governed by the economic situation."

Indeed, with the current economic situation pushing more and more young people into rental property, yields are likely to rise, with new figures from Accommodation for Students showing that average weekly rents have risen by an average of 17 per cent over the past four years.

In addition, the large summer vacancy windows – which can easily be covered by charging students retainers – are ideal for landlords to carry out repairs or improvements.

Furthermore, parent-landlords can also benefit from the knowledge that their child is not giving their student loan money to a disreputable letting agency or private landlord, while, just like the Blairs, potentially seeing the equity on their property rise at the same time – with Halifax recently reporting that 20 UK university towns recorded house price growth of at least 20 per cent in the year to August 2007.

Even princesses want to fly the nest at some point

For those unable to invest in a property for their academic offspring, there is of course a third way of helping them out financially, namely letting them live at home while they attend university.

However, as in the case of Beatrice, for many youngsters this is an undesirable last resort, regardless of how much it will help them out financially.

According to the source close to the Princess, she has made it clear to estate agents that she is buying alone and isn’t moving in with her mother, the Duchess of York.

"Her mother is taking a keen interest but nothing more than that. They get on very well but are not about to move in together," the newspaper was told.

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