Many students come to the end of their degrees wondering when they are going to be able to afford a deposit on a property in light of the student debt they will have accumulated. But some students leave university already a home owner/ landlord. Sounds improbable? Two lenders (The Loughborough Building Society and Bath Building Society) are offering a 'buy for uni' mortgage - the catch being that close relatives provide security.
Under the terms of the deal, students who are over 18 and are in higher education in England and Wales can get a loan for up to £300,000. The property must be within 10 miles of where they study and must be guaranteed by parents, step-parents or grandparents.
Lenders argue that this product enables young people to get a foothold on the property ladder, allowing the student to become a landlord by renting out rooms to fellow students. The rental income needs ideally to cover more than the repayments, to account for rises in interest rates or periods of low occupancy. Alternatively the guarantor is obliged to cover any periods of suboptimal renting.
Although this is a new product from the Loughborough Building Society, the deal has been available in Bath since 2008, on the basis of a loan to value ratio of 75% or less. The students' relatives are required to provide at least a 25% charge on the property. But does it work in practice? According to Bath Building Society's chief executive, the rental income derived from fellow students usually pays the majority of the mortgage repayments; however, the model works better in some towns than in others.
Some student representatives are advising a cautious approach for students considering this option. Signing up for a mortgage at the age of 18 may place a lot of responsibility on young shoulders, and hidden costs such as surveyors and legal costs may potentially catch people unawares.
These deals are not for everyone, and lenders argue that they carefully assess the circumstances of the student and the guarantors before entering into a contract. Interest rates are typically higher than equivalent conventional mortgages and it is important for potential borrowers to be aware of the risks. And parents too need to be aware of risks to their own property. For instance, if there is a rental shortfall the bank of mum and dad is going to have to pay the difference, and if the property were to end up being repossessed, the lender could claim any shortfall from the parents' equity. In addition, borrowing against their own home in future could be affected. On the plus side, however, the property is in the child's name, and so there would be no additional property stamp duty surcharge, presuming parents own their own home.