Posts Tagged ‘Student Housing’

The Latest Trend That’s Changing Student Housing

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Ian Ritter | Shared post from the Hightower Blog

student housing next gen

Student housing facilities have changed a lot over the last several years. Tech-enabled, communal living spaces have replaced the stacked double rooms that once defined the college dorm.

But, the newest trend is that some student-housing developments are now adding retail and other property sectors to their project, effectively creating a mixed-use arena. This marriage makes sense because student housing has become more of a mainstream commercial real estate product type.

The reason for this change is a spike in undergraduate enrollment, which is attracting both developers and various retail  / restaurant tenants. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2000 and 2010, undergraduate enrollment rates increased by 44 percent. And even more growth is projected. The organization sees a 14 percent increase from now until 2025 for full-time students, while part-time students are reportedly rising 15 percent.

The commercial real estate industry is taking notice.

How to go mixed-use

One recently announced example is in downtown Orlando, where the University of Central Florida’s new student housing complex is going up. The $90-million development, which will have between 14 and 15 stories with 600 to 700 units, will also include 10,000 square feet of retail. Meanwhile, also in downtown Orlando, Valencia College is planning a student housing facility, which will also have 50,000 square feet set aside for a restaurant and staging area for the school’s hospitality program.

This fall, a mixed-use student-housing project is set to open at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. Below will be 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurants anchored by a CVS. Additional tenants include Honeygrow, a regional Northeast fast-casual chain that serves food with local ingredients, and a local ramen shop.

In downtown Greenvillle, N.C., the home of East Carolina University, mixed-use student housing is one of the centerpieces of Greenville 2020, a public-private partnership intended to shape the development future of that city. Part of the $1 billion in total investment, which includes public-transportation improvements, retail, restaurants and breweries includesCampus-Edge. That project will reportedly have 20,000 square feet of retail space underneath five stories of student housing.

These types of developments aren’t limited to housing strictly for students, but are going up where students are major tenants along with other renters. Boston, for example, has several universities scattered throughout its metro area. A development in the Downtown Crossing area looks to target both. A 72-story tower being proposed in Downtown Crossing, will be a mixture of residential and office, and developers Millennium Partners are banking on students taking up much of the apartment space in the building.

Still, not a perfect marriage

A recent Urban Land Institute (ULI) panel on student housing addressed the trend. J. Wesley Rogers, president and CEOLandmark Properties, said that putting retail under the housing units can provide a stronger yield for some assets. In Gainesville, Fla., for example, retail rents in one of the firm’s properties are commanding a strong $50 per square foot.

But Rogers warned that putting the two product types together doesn’t always work. For one thing, some municipalities won’t allow the combination due to zoning issues. Plus, Rogers pointed out, a good student-housing location doesn’t always mean a good retail location.

So, making every student-housing development a mixed-use scenario doesn’t necessarily make sense. But if it is in a dense area near a campus, or in an urban environment, where some universities are located, there isn’t much downside. Student housing in these locations not only has a built-in customer based above the asset, but college towns in many locales are similar to the 24-hour environments in big cities that retailers and restaurants increasingly crave.

Ian Ritter
Ian Ritter is the former Content Director for Connect Media, a Web site that covers commercial real estate nationally, with a focus on California. He is also the Online Content Manager engineering firm GRS Group and writes blogs about national industry trends. Formerly, Ian was the Retail Editor at, among other titles over nearly a decade, and was also an editor at the International Council of Shopping Centers publication “Shopping Centers Today.” He holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University.

5 Crazy Marketing Tactics That Actually Attract Student Renters

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Shared Post by Appfolio

If you currently manage a student housing portfolio then you probably notice that you have to go the extra mile to be the hottest property around, as most students are just hoping for a room with a bed. This means you might have to employ some more creative marketing tactics to max out your student housing.

Here are a few unconventional ideas on how to fill your properties on and off campus this year.


Hit the Road with Mobile Marketing

Some student housing property managers have taken to the road with a rather ingenious way to attract attention—a rent bus.

If the student housing pool in your area is particularly competitive, standing out is an absolute must. That’s why Haven Campus Communities decided to take their marketing to the streets with an old food truck that they tricked out to be a mobile leasing station. Parking at sporting events or around campus, students are invited inside the bus to check out floor plans, photos, and even apply for an apartment on the spot.

Talk about driving demand! When taking your business to the streets, mobility and cloud functionality is key—property management software can help you streamline these processes.

Throw a Pool Party

If the property you are trying to fill has a shared pool, what better way to attract new renters than to throw a pool party? Spread the word across campus using flyers, an email blast, or social media. Invite local DJs or bands to play at your party. If your property has grills, use those to offer your prospects free food while they splash around. Throwing a huge party is a great way to show renters that your properties will keep the good times rolling…All they need to do is apply.

Offer Free Food (Who Can Say “No” to Free Food?)

If you want to draw a crowd, free food is always the way to go. No matter where you may be promoting your properties, if you bring food people will come. Consider hiring a food truck for the day and bringing it to a student housing event or local beer and wine festival. Hungry students (and prospective renters) will never refuse an application if it comes with free tacos!

Be a Renter Superfan

Students have a wide variety of interests. College students have the highest attendance rate of sporting events and music festivals than any other age group in the country—and where there are large gatherings of students, there is an opportunity to market!

If you have a marketing team, get them to help you design cool paper collateral to hand out at festivals, concerts, or sports games; Millennials and younger generations think of quality creative work as a sign of professionalism, and a fresh poster or postcard design is one of the best ways to leave a positive impression in a student’s mind.

Many events also need local sponsors to help bring their projects to life. Sponsor a local event and get permission to set up a booth where attendees can speak to you in person about your properties. To sweeten the pot, you can even provide a little free swag like a fanny pack or water bottle that displays your company brand while providing a service to your prospects.

Get Creative with Incentives (Loan-a-bike systems, public transportation included in rent, etc.)

In college towns or large universities where student housing is competitive, most students know that they can be picky about where they want to live while also staying within their price range. You can make your properties more attractive on a financial level by providing creative yet practical incentives for your renters when they sign.

As an example, Chicago is a diverse city filled with many different types of higher learning institutions; it is also very large and can be difficult and expensive to navigate. Divvy is a local a bike loan service that allows students to pick up a bike in one of their many locations and drop it off when they are finished. At only $75/ year per student, this could be a great signing incentive that would provide real value to students without breaking their bank or yours.

While students need to get around, they also need places to go. Many large universities will offer season passes to sporting events to their students at a discount; try to strike the same deal for your property, then run a promotion offering free season passes to the first 100 students that sign a lease with you. Most students will reason that they were going to buy the tickets anyway, so they might as well get them for free.

Remember, young renters are not always financially stable on their own, so a big piece of the marketing puzzle is about including their parents in the rental decision. Your marketing can be fun and adventurous so long as it also shows professionalism and makes fiscal sense to the real decision maker.

Along the same lines, you may also want to consider accepting cosigners for your student housing portfolio. Not only is it financially safer for you and your renters, it helps create a sense of responsibility and ownership in young adults without forcing them to sign a lease completely on their own. Allowing cosigners will help you fill vacancies faster and assume less risk.

These are just a few of many wacky ways to capture a college student’s attention, don’t be afraid to get a little more edgy when it comes to marketing to a younger crowd. Who knows? You might discover new ways to market to your larger portfolio in the process.

appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.

Student Housing Sector Continues to Outperform

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog


The past two quarters were monumental for student housing. In the first quarter of 2016, a record $2.6 billion in capital poured into the sector, marking the largest single-quarter investment since 2006. In total, the sales volume made for 66.2 percent in year-over-year growth for this property type, according to Lucy Fletcher, a managing director and international capital expert at commercial real estate services firm JLL.

“We are seeing more direct deals by foreign investors this year,” she says, with about one half of the volume in this quarter coming from offshore investors. That $1.4 billion in foreign inflow came primarily from a joint venture deal between Scion, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and GIC, which formed Scion Student Communities and acquired University House Communities Group’s portfolio.

“Why is global investment increasing? Resiliency of income,” Fletcher says.

This quarter and last quarter, we are seeing “increasing international investment through income funds and sovereign funds,” says Tom Errath, senior vice president of research for Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, the largest private equity firm focused on real estate investments in student housing, managing approximately $10.6 billion in AUM. For universities seeking to build on-campus housing, Errath says Harrison Street is one of a number of firms and investors who are starting to enter into 50-to 75-year ground lease agreements with universities.

Land lease agreements are becoming more popular for campuses that need repositioning or that have been vacant, sources say.

So far this year, the student housing sector is seeing cap rates that are consistently just north of 6.0 percent.

When investors consider student housing, the most crucial elements are real enrollment numbers, location, sponsor strength and site operation experience.

“Investors are buying into really well-managed platforms. There is large pent-up demand across the entire sector of core products,” says Scott Streiff, executive vice president with JLL.  He describes the core class-A product as having enrollment of 30,000 students plus. “We are seeing investors chasing core products that deliver attractive cap rates with projected student enrollment increases.”

Right now investors are seeing those types of properties trade at approximately 5.0 percent cap rates. “Larger campuses historically carry lower cap rates,” Streiff says.

Never quite even

“I don’t know if there will ever be a point of supply and demand meeting in this sector, says Jaclyn Fitts, national director of student housing at real estate services firm CBRE. Student housing tends to be recession-proof, since when times get tough, many people opt to return to school. Add to the equation the national trend of continually increasing enrollment rates for higher education. The year 2014-2015 was the biggest on record in this sector for new beds added, with approximately 60,000 new beds, according to CBRE data. The firm expects another 45,000 student housing beds added in 2016-2017.

“There will continue to be investment opportunities in 2017 and 2018,” says Fitts. “We will continue to see new development in 2017. Additionally, purpose-built student housing properties completed in the 2000s are primed for repositioning, so we will continue to see opportunity there in rehabbing first-generation purpose-built [properties] and raising rents.”

Although supply is being added yearly, there is still 96 percent occupancy nationally for the 2015-2016 academic school year, Errath says. There were some specific markets, however, that saw overdevelopment this year. One example is Texas A&M, a market that needs to absorb 7,500 more beds in the next three years, according to Fitts.

Student housing spin-offs

Post-graduation, many young adults find themselves facing an expensive housing market and a very tight apartment rental market. Those who are pursuing post-graduate degrees or already working at the university may not have the funds or credit history to qualify for traditional housing options.

One developer, Post Brothers, has sought to answer the needs of this market and is doing so by delving into a sub-sector called post-graduate housing. Post Brothers builds and invests in university housing-oriented cities that have college economies. College economies generally have large research budgets, NIH grants and major hospitals that act as employers for post-graduate students.

Post Brothers recently acquired Garden Court Plaza, a 13-story, 146-unit apartment building at 4701 Pine Street in Philadelphia for repositioning as part of its development strategy in University City. The developer has earmarked $250 million for continued development in that city in the next few years.

“We see it as better than student housing, because it is targeted to young professionals and graduate and medical students. They may not want to pay for class-A new construction and our properties offer a value proposition that doesn’t compromise quality,” says Matt Pestronk, CEO of Post Brothers. “ We are not seeing a lot of investor resistance to the concept.”


Amenities That Attract Student Renters

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Student RentersYou’ve likely already considered options like renting by the room with separate contractual leases as a method of attracting student renters. So as a property owner, how do you make changes to your property itself that will attract even more of these surefire renters? Here are a few amenities that draw in higher education students.

Proximity to Campus

So this isn’t so much an amenity as it is a “feature” of the property, but the key to really luring in student renters is being close to the campus. Keep in mind, college students tend to play hard, party hard, and likely work hard in addition to all that studying, so being close to the college campus is ideal for those that punch snooze several time before getting out of bed. Being within two miles of campus is the target distance for most students, so if you’re considering buying a rental property designed for students, get as close to the campus as possible.

Lease Timing

Consider adjusting your lease lengths to accommodate the periods that students are in school. Most students put in about 9 months each year, although a few will stay on for summer session. However, by giving students the option for a lease that encompasses the traditional two semester year, you will likely attract even more students. Word gets around fast on campus about that cool property owner that isn’t forcing them to pay for three months of rent they won’t even use.

Add an Exercise Area

Staying in peak physical shape is high on many students’ priority list, and if you have an empty room anywhere on the property, go ahead and consider the inclusion of a weight and fitness room. The equipment doesn’t’ have to be fancy or even brand new, but the addition of an exercise room will certainly attract student renters that don’t want to commit to a gym membership.

Consider a Clubhouse or Other Central Common Area

Again, college students seem to like options for partying, and the addition of a clubhouse or common area to your property can meet that need. You certainly can consider charging additional funds beyond rent for utilizing the clubhouse for a party or gathering, which can increase your bottom line on rentals. If there’s a room and nothing happening in it, consider transitioning it into a money maker that will attract both college students and other renters.

As a property owner, do keep in mind that college students also appreciate additions such as extra storage, bike racks, and privacy. However, making a slight change in your amenities can help your property become one of the most recommended on campus!

Interested in learning more about student housing trends and what you can do to capitalize on this growing market? Check out this free webinar.

appfolio Appfolio | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.


Highlights from the 2014 Income Property Management Expo

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Pasadena, CA – March 25, 2014


We hope to see everyone back in Pasadena in 2015!


Why Investing in Student Housing is Becoming More Popular

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Student Housing

Last year Worcester Investments purchased its first student housing complex near the University of Kansas. Since this was a little different for us, we wasted no time getting down to the facts. While conducting market research on our student housing investment, we found a few interesting statistics that might make you consider expanding your own investment strategy.

Why More Students are Opting to Live Off-Campus than Ever Before

  • The National Multi-Housing Council (NMHC) stated that in 2010 school-owned housing facilities could only accommodate about 30% of the enrolled student population.
  • The cost of room and board at a public 4-year university is up 20% from five years ago; private 4-year universities charge 14% more than 5 years ago.
  • The average full-time undergraduate enrolled in a public four-year college receives enough grant aid to cover a significant portion of tuition and fees, but not to cover any other expenses. Let’s break that down. If the average net price of tuition and fees is $3,120, that means the student is left with a net out-of-pocket cost of $9,500 for room and board.
  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics, national college enrollment is projected to increase by approximately 2.3 million by 2020.

Housing Inspections The Brilliance of a No-Surprises Strategy

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Nick Frantz

I once had a boss who told me it was my job to make sure he was never surprised. I thought that was odd, but over time I realized it was brilliant… because nobody likes a bad surprise.

When it comes to student housing inspections, it’s likely that nothing would surprise your team. But your inspection team is probably not your major concern. It’s your student residents—and their parents— that should not be surprised.

Housing inspections are animosity-building opportunities. It’s human nature; nobody likes to be “inspected.” Just the idea puts student residents on the defensive. And if poorly executed, students end up feeling that their privacy has been violated… and parents end up surprised by an unwelcome fine.

Communications are the key to taking the edge off the inspection process. Here are five tips to help you turn a relationship strain into an organizational gain.

1.  Use a reliable means to notify. Inspections should not be a surprise. Most states, municipalities and universities require that you give advance notice. But that doesn’t mean that students will actually receive advance notice. Posting paper notices doesn’t work. Some may actually get read, but they’re often removed before everyone gets the message. (Does anyone ever pass that information on to their parents?) Dates and times are easily forgotten. And it can take a lot of time to make the rounds manually posting notices.

Use the communication method your residents and their parents prefer: voice and text messages to cell phones, email addresses and social media sites. Everyone gets and reads text messages. Plus, they conveniently provide a written record for later reference. A message notification service makes it fast and easy to notify all your contacts with one simple message. Use it to send an initial announcement and then send a reminder notice, too. Some services provide automated translations and documentation that shows your messages were received.

2.  Set expectations. It’s a fact, people aren’t happy when their expectations are not met. Compile and publish a list of items that are not permitted (e.g. candles; flammable substances; items hanging from sprinkler heads, overloaded extension cords; blocked exit maps; items left in hallways and stairwells; etc.) Make your rules short and simple. You want them to be read. If possible, make your inspection list available.

3.  Tell them why. Publish a statement that explains the rationale for inspections: legal, safety, quality of life, resource management, etc. Make it short and easy to read and understand. Include a list of frequently asked questions and answers. For example:

  • When do inspections happen?
  • How do they work?
  • How will I be notified?
  • Will you come into my unit if I’m not there?
  • What happens if you find a violation?

4.  Eliminate the “them versus us” factor. Students are heavily engaged with social media building online communities. Make safety and resource management a community-wide effort within their residential community. Or launch a team initiative with teams by building or floor striving for the highest score. Using technology, such as a message notification service positions you as part of the community. And it also supports a “green” community initiative by eliminating paper mailings and flyers.

5.  Consider incentivizing a perfect inspection. Free stuff is good and it doesn’t have to drain your budget. Free pizza, gas cards, iTunes. Who doesn’t love an immediate, tangible reward? If volume is a concern, consider a drawing for five, ten, twenty winners.

You and your staff work hard all year to make your property a safe and desirable place to live. Attracting and keeping student residents takes an ongoing commitment, lots of time and lots of effort. It’s about more than just your property. It’s also about building relationships. Don’t let inspections threaten your hard-earned relationships. Use a proactive communication plan to position them as a legal and practical necessity that promotes a safe and healthy quality of life.

For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.


NickFrantz2011Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.