GSA successfully enters US – key learnings of transatlantic transacting through a pandemic by Robin Moorcroft

18 February 2021


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At GSA, we specialise in building, acquiring, operating and investing in student housing communities. Over the past seven years, GSA has entered nine countries and over 55 cities across the world.

In 2020 we entered the US, the largest student housing market with the acquisition of 8,000 beds and an operating platform with 200 staff. Despite COVID-19, we were able to navigate transacting through a pandemic with most of our deal team based out of the US. This posed natural challenges but also focussed our business on improving our cross-border transaction working practices – some of the key takeaways of which we have collated below…

  • Tip 1: Plan and communicate physical site tours early in the due diligence process to save repeat visits and limit contact risk for customers/ tenants. 
  • Tip 2: Establish COVID-19 safe standards that all advisors adhere to. For us, this could mean creating team bubbles when on the road.
  • Tip 3: Have the right health and travel insurance plans, keep them up to date should anything go wrong and to give your teams peace of mind.  
  • Tip 4: Limit the amount of people travelling by bringing physical tours to life with 3D mapping, drone and video technologies and well managed data sites.  
  • Tip 5: Respect people’s office hours when working from home. Everyone needs ‘down time’ otherwise deal fatigue kicks in and this is especially true when working across multiple time zones.
  • Tip 6: Most importantly, build in more time at every step of the transaction. No matter how great your checklists, use of technology or planning – engaging over video conferencing, with limited travel or quarantining will always take more time than face to face meetings and freedom to travel.

With these learnings and more in hand, GSA is already embarking on other major international acquisitions and developments in 2021 and is on target to deliver more than 10,000 beds of student housing in the next twelve-months – whether we can fly freely or not!

Robin Moorcroft is Transactions Director, APAC and USA for GSA