Blackstone, the biggest owner of commercial real estate in the world, is placing its bets on the student housing rental market as demand surges worldwide.
“Student housing is, I think where the opportunity is most specifically generating a lot of strong cash for us and our investors,” as universities seek more accommodations to satisfy growing student bodies and heightened demand, said Kathleen McCarthy, Blackstone’s global co-head of real estate, speaking at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference Thursday.
She highlighted last year’s acquisition of student housing provider American Campus Communities as one way Blackstone can work with universities to increase supply amid shortages. The company, she added, also focuses on rental housing because it shows a “great deal of resiliency.”
Last year, the company made a sizable bet on the real estate industry, raising a little more than $30 billion for its Blackstone Real Estate Partners X fund, which McCarthy highlighted as another way the company is using its insights to provide consistent performance for investors and confidence amid a market with heightened “dislocation.”
But student housing issues aren’t solely a U.S. problem, and Blackstone has made investments in Australia, Canada and the U.K. as students seek English-language degrees, McCarthy said.
“Those countries are really looking at education as somewhat of an export, and, where the U.S. has had more challenging visa policies, those countries have been able to capitalize on that, and are seeking to grow their universities but they need housing to do that,” she said.
Along with student housing, McCarthy also highlighted datacenters and logistics as other key conviction real estate areas as artificial intelligence booms and consumers do more online shopping.
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