Student Housing Leasing Offices: Great Venue for Interactive

Student Housing Leasing Offices: Great Venue for Interactive

Over the last decade, student housing has undergone a significant transformation.  Back in the day, universities (both public and private) housed almost all students on campus — in dormitories and houses.  Married and graduate student housing demand emerged in the 50’s and 60’s; university-built apartment complexes met this need.  In the early/mid 70’s, universities started adding apartment complexes designed for undergraduate students to meet demand for “non-traditional” housing.

Student Housing: Interactive Kiosks Meet Leasing Office Demands

Now, we’ve seen the transition towards private companies providing housing for all student groups.  Many institutions built and/or remodeled their traditional offerings around the Baby Boomer growth period.  Now, their complexes are aging and “in competition” with housing choices offered off-campus.  While “power houses” such as Harvard and Stanford might not find this an issue, Bill Bayless, CEO at REIT American Campus Communities, notes in Builder“Colleges and universities, in order to recruit and retain students, need market-based solutions acceptable to today’s customers.”

Market-based solutions allow colleges/universities to allocate their ever-tighter budget dollars to their core mission: education.  As student “consumers” look for housing options, many schools find themselves unable and/or unwilling to compete.  Yet, housing is critical to the institutions’s marketability.  Tom Trubiana, Chief Investment Officer at REIT EdR says, “Schools are looking for solutions to fulfill their commitment to students.  They’re looking to the private sector, which can go out to the capital markets and raise funds.

As a result of this change, “student housing” is seeing the addition of features and amenities typically associated with “market” housing.  Mike Harnett, Pulte’s chief investment officer, suggests “resort-style student housing” is becoming the norm — and this is similar to housing provided by Pulte in its Del Webb communities. “It’s about high-touch, hospitality, and lifestyle,” he says.

The leasing process is somewhat unique in this market niche.  Students might reserve popular locations a year (or more) in advance.  At the same time, there’s a tremendous “rush” at certain times in the year.  Just as complexes are changing, the leasing office must adapt, as well.  We’re seeing the addition of interactive touchscreen kiosks and tablets to provide a quick overview of what’s available to lease (and when), property highlights and surrounding local “hot spots” including dining, shopping and hotels for parents to use when visiting!

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