March 25, 2015

GUEST BLOG BY PLACES4STUDENTS 

As enrollment rates at colleges and universities across North America continue to rise, the demand for off-campus housing is also rising. As a result, investors and property owners are recognizing the financial opportunities available within the off-campus housing market.   

Before making an investment in student housing, property owners and investors should analyze the market that the rental accommodation(s) is located in. There are many situational factors to consider:

  • How many college or universities are in the surrounding area?
  • Are enrollment rates increasing or decreasing at these schools?
  • How much on-campus housing is available?
  • Are there restrictions regarding which students can live off-campus at these schools (do freshmen & sophomores have to live on-campus)?
  • What is the academic calendar for these schools (start and end dates for each semester)?
  • What is the leasing cycle like?

Other market factors to pay attention to include:

  • What are the going rental rates?
  • How competitive is the rental market?
  • Is rental licensing required?

This information can help property owners and investors get a firm understanding of how in-demand student housing is within a given market.

In relation to market research, investors and property owners should also consider the leasing habits of student renters. Every rental market is a little different and the tenants will have certain nuances. For example, it’s important to know exactly when student tenants are looking for housing. In highly competitive rental markets, students may be signing leases up to a year in advance of the rental date. Meanwhile, in less competitive rental markets, students may postpone searching for accommodations until a few months before school starts or wait until the last minute. It’s helpful to know the academic calendar for nearby colleges and universities, as this will let property owners know when new students are starting classes. Academic calendars are typically available on the college and university websites.  

In addition to knowing when students are looking for housing, it’s important to know how students are searching for accommodations. This relates to advertising a rental property effectively and efficiently. Most schools offer an advertising platform or website for property owners and landlords in the community to utilize. It has been substantiated that a school’s off-campus housing service is the best advertising venue, as it is promoted and facilitated through the college or university. Students who are searching for accommodations are referred directly to the service. Furthermore, property owners can become more aware of peak student housing periods and better prepare to increase advertising efforts during these times.

After learning about the rental market, leasing habits and best advertising practices, it’s time to consider the more specific preferences of student renters.

Perhaps the most important feature in student housing is location. Location is king when it comes to the most sought after student housing property. Properties that are within walking distance, or a short bus-ride to campus, tend to be the most desirable student housing rentals. While some students will own a car, the bulk of commuter students will either walk or bus to campus. It’s advisable to purchase or build student housing that is in close proximity to the campus. Consider the fact that of 7,000+ students surveyed by J Turner Research, only 32% of the students were willing to live 5+ miles away from campus.

Second to location, the next consideration is amenities and features of rental properties. To gain an upper hand in the market, property managers and landlords can offer certain amenities to increase the desirability of their properties. For example, some of the most sought after amenities include:

  • In-unit washer and dryer,
  • Cable/WiFi Internet included,
  • Parking included,
  • Large refrigerators.

Added bonuses like these can attract more students and are great features to mention in rental property listings to increase leads. All-inclusive units (utilities included) also are a great offering that students are interested in.

The final consideration is the type of rental unit and how it’s rented out. According to J Turner Research, the top three types of buildings students would most like to live in are:

  • Mid-rise apartments (38%),
  • Community cottage or townhouse (33%),
  • Single-family house (13%).

Regarding how the unit is rented out, property owners have the option of renting the entire unit as-a-whole, or renting by-the-room. In most cases, property owners who rent by-the-room have the opportunity to increase their rental income, as they can charge more rent per room. With renting by-the-room, property owners will commonly have multiple leases (one for each tenant) and will often have to rent to students who may not know each other.

It is apparent that as enrollment rates at colleges and universities continue to grow, so will the demand for off-campus housing.

SEE ALSO: The Potential Challenges of Renting To Students

The Places4Students.com Team

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Places4Students.com is the proven off-campus housing listings resource for over 125 college and university campuses throughout North America. They've helped thousands of landlords and property management companies advertise their housing vacancies to student effectively.  Visit Places4Students.com