Student Housing Rentals

Student Housing Rentals

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Student Housing Rentals

 “Student housing rentals are gaining more attention among higher-net-worth investors. Some are buying newly built apartment-and-townhouse condos targeted at this niche, while others are investing in private real-estate investment trusts (REITs) that own student accommodations.”

Student housing rentals have become a hot real estate trade. Lured by stable, recession-resistant returns, institutional investors opened their wallets in recent years to build housing at or near universities. Too many of those dollars flowed to projects around schools where there were low barriers to development, such as Texas A&M and the University of Oklahoma. Landlords in those areas have had to offer discounts and freebies to get—in the industry parlance—“heads on beds.” Some properties are going bust, leading to downgrades of bonds that backed the development. Now, veteran investors in student housing say they’re careful about their next moves, even as money continues to pour into the industry.

Student Housing Rentals

But in order to break into the market, there are a few basic things that any investor should know. From NBPrivate Capital, here are seven things you should know before you consider investing in student housing rentals.

1. Understand the university

When evaluating student housing rentals, the first thing you want to look for is the university itself. You want to make sure your economic anchor is stable, and that enrollment is consistent year after year, decade after decade. You also want to look at how economic cycles have affected enrollment historically.

2. Understand the property

Second, you want to look at the property itself. How did the property perform during the Great Recession? Were they able to raise the rent? Were they able to keep the building full? Basically, were they able to remain stable in tough times?

3. Understand the competition

You also want to evaluate the competitive set. You want to take a look at the four or five top competitors in the area and look at their track record over the past several years. Believe it or not, but you need to make sure that the other properties that you are competing with are doing well, too. You don’t want to be in a market where your competitors are selling off concession or discounts—that’s a sign of a weak economic area. If they are leasing faster, that then creates more demand for you.

4. Understand the area

Some universities have been around for centuries and, unfortunately, the majority, if not all, of the land has been developed. There’s typically not a whole lot of land within walking distance of campus. So, if you’re able to find a property that is well-located and well-positioned within a couple of blocks of campus, that’s a gold mine. If you are able to find a location like this, it makes it really hard for competition to come in and change or replicate that.

5. Understand your target market

Another vital component to investing in student housing rentals is understanding who you are trying to lease to. What kind of students are you attracting? Is it a growing segment within the population? Is it new students? Your target market will help you determine what kinds of amenities and activities you should include in the property and which kind of students are going to pay the highest premium to live there.

6. Understand the cap rate

What a lot of people don’t know about commercial real estate is the primary tool used to evaluate a certain piece of property. The cap rate is determined by dividing the net operating income (NOI) by the property sales price. This will help you evaluate the potential for growth of the property and assess the likelihood of safety of the income. If you can increase the net operating income in the cap rate model, you essentially increase the sales price.

7. Understand expenses

One of the greatest things about student housing rentals is how low your expenses can be. If you have a property right next to a major university, in many cases the university offers great amenities. Things such as a union center, pools, and exercise facilities are on most major campuses today, and that means you don’t have to spend the money on them. In this scenario, your square footage is nearly 100 percent revenue-producing. This leads to a favorable expense ratio and greatly affects your bottom line. And that means even in bad years with lower occupancy, you will still be able to remain cash positive, making your property safer and more stable.

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Photo by Chris Gerber on Unsplash

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