GSA sees growing lender interest in Irish student housing

The sector specialist, which last week completed a Dublin refinancing with Wells Fargo, believes the financing market is becoming more competitive.

Investment management firm Global Student Accommodation, which entered Ireland in 2015 and claims to be the country’s largest provider of student homes, says lenders are increasingly competitive when it comes to the asset class.

Last week, GSA announced it had refinanced two assets – owned in a joint venture with Chicago-based investment firm Harrison Street – from its Kew student accommodation portfolio in Dublin, with US bank Wells Fargo.

John Jacobs, global head of capital markets at GSA, told Real Estate Capital Europe the lending market in Ireland has been “competitively limited” during the firm’s time in the country. “There haven’t been many other [financing] options outside the core pillar banks in Ireland,”  Jacobs said.

However, Jacobs sees interest in Irish purpose-built student housing from international lenders such as Wells Fargo as evidence of growing lender appetite to finance such property.

“There is appetite for our sector from international banks and it keeps the Irish banks competitive, which is extremely good for us and for all borrowers,” he said.

Jacobs said the firm received three term sheets on the refinancing, including one from the original Irish bank lender. However, GSA managed to agree more competitive terms with Wells Fargo.

GSA refinanced two purpose-built student housing assets in prime locations in Dublin – Yugo Highfield Park, which opened in 2020, and Yugo Dominick Place, which opened in 2019. The previous facility on the two assets was due to mature later this year.

The loan amount was not disclosed but it is understood the facility was around €50 million The fully-let Kew portfolio of four is understood to be valued at more than €200 million.

The facility marked the first transaction between Wells Fargo and GSA in Europe, with the two parties having closed multiple transactions in the US. Jacobs explained the firm retains strong relationships with Irish banks as the two remaining assets in the Kew portfolio are still financed through domestic lenders.