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Places4Students

Places4Students

Places4Students.com is the comprehensive Off-Campus Housing Service that works in conjunction with academic institutions and student organizations to provide off-campus housing solutions for students.

Posted by on in Resident Retention
In recognition of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, we thought it would be fitting to discuss a clever new way for landlords and property managers to show their tenants some love.   A relatively new trend in the rental industry is the introduction of tenant reward and perk programs, whereby accommodation providers offer discounts, incentives, and prizes to their tenants.   Tenant satisfaction and retention are two central aspects of maintaining a successful rental housing business, which makes these reward programs an excellent way to help keep tenants happy. Tenant retention is a particularly tricky issue in student housing, as the average turnover rate is about 50% per year, according to Centurion Apartments.So what are some examples of these tenant reward programs?   While there are certainly no shortages of tenant reward programs that have popped up over the last few years, the following are a few of our favorites.  Killam Perks – Killam Properties operates several student housing locations across Canada which offer a program known as Killam Perks. Tenants receive a perks card which grants them access to discounts and special deals from a huge list of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? Save the tax at a fast-growing fresh food chain, Freshii.  MoolaPerks – One way or another, tenants have to pay rent; so why not get rewarded for doing it? RentMoola’s MoolaPerks program does just that. This third-party rent payment company allows their users the ability to be rewarded with a slew of discounts, freebies and perks from a plethora of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? A...

Posted by on in Student Housing
Residents of student housing have a tendency to be early-adopters of new technologies and generally can be considered one of the more tech-savvy multi-family segments. For this reason, the student housing industry often introduces some cutting-edge resident technologies that often pave the way for advances in other multifamily markets.   Over the past decade, student housing has emerged as an industry leader; not only for investment potential, but also for introducing improved resident experiences through emerging technologies.Here are some highlights of the newest technology related trends in student housing and the impact they are having in the market.  1. Virtual Reality Tours & Third-Party Apartment Viewing Services:For out-of-state or out-of-country students, sometimes renting sight unseen is a reality they must begrudgingly accept. This is an uncertain experience filled with ambiguity, whereby a student must rent a place without ever seeing it. A way to solve this problem can be through a service such as Squeakly.Squeakly will view an apartment on a tenant’s behalf and provide feedback through an extremely detailed report which can include property assessments, floor-plan layouts, virtual reality tours and more. This eliminates all the guesswork for students who are unable to actually go and view an apartment or home themselves.  2. Digital Lease Agreements:Students have a tendency to prefer to do most functions online, whether it is online banking, social networking or any other activity. When it comes to lease agreements, it’s much more convenient for a student to sign the lease online instead of in person, such as using digital...

Posted by on in Student Housing
For many first year students, on-campus housing is often seen as an ideal transition into independent living. Students can accept more responsibilities and independence, while still enjoying the luxuries of having mostly everything taken care of for them. The next stepping-stone for many students is the move into off-campus housing, where even more freedom and responsibilities are awarded to them. Typically, living off-campus is where students get their first real taste of complete independence. Students can choose one of two rental accommodations.  All-Inclusive: A rental accommodation where tenants do not pay their utility bills (electric, gas, sewer, water, etc. are paid for by the landlord and factored into the monthly rental rate).  Non-Inclusive: A rental accommodation where the tenants set-up and pay their utility bills. In most cases, students (specifically ones without much rental experience) will prefer all-inclusive rentals for a variety of reasons.  Less Hassle: Chances are, students have never had the opportunity to set-up utility accounts, aside from perhaps their cell phone. For many students, this can be unfamiliar territory filled with uncertainty. Some students would prefer the easy route of having everything bundled and set-up for them.  No Surprises: There’s a certain comfort in knowing exactly what is owed at the end of each month, especially for students. Living on a student budget can be tight and having to resourcefully budget for utility bills can be difficult; especially with varying due dates and fluctuating costs based on usage. Some students would prefer to just pay rent at the beginning of each...

Posted by on in Student Housing
A few months back, we had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the CFAA Rental Housing Conference with Max Steinman from Landlord Web Solutions discussing apartment marketing and digital content. Max brought up a good point about the lead-to-lease timeframe, saying apartment managers and landlords need to respond to email and telephone inquiries in less than 24 hours. He posited that leasing agents who fail to follow up promptly inevitably lose potential tenants.    This point is very important; especially in the student housing sector. Students nowadays have high expectations for a quick response and usually have little patience; especially millennials.   But can you blame them? Society has fostered innovation to take the waiting and inconvenience out of practically everything. It’s no surprise that students want an instant reply to their email inquiry, text, voicemail or Facebook message.   A study conducted by Vacation Rental Services found that the average rental inquiry response time was 8.73 hours, which sounds fairly reasonable. However, for student renters, this may not be fast enough. Most students will typically send out multiple inquiries on various properties all at once. The first leasing agent to respond will have the greatest chance to schedule a property viewing appointment.   So what is an ideal timeframe for responding to a student’s rental inquiry? Responses should be made within 3 hours or less.   To determine the expectations of tenants, we took a look at research done in other rental segments. While there hasn’t been any research done specifically for the student...

Posted by on in Student Housing
When it comes to student housing or even rental accommodations, investment properties are typically regarded as a relatively one-dimensional profit generator in which rental payments serve as the only revenue. However, there are a few lease clauses that could potentially be netting landlords additional income or saving them more money.Landlords are advised to review their local tenancy laws to ensure that these lease clauses or addendums are both applicable and legal in their jurisdictions.  1. Utility Cap Clause (For All-Inclusive Rentals)A popular option amongst student renters is all-inclusive accommodations. While this option is a great selling feature for student rentals, it can result in some large variable utility costs for landlords. To help minimize the variable costs, a utility cap can set specific quotas for what constitutes as “all-inclusive.” To set the utility cap, there are many resources online (typically through utility provider websites) which will show the average energy consumption for various household sizes. To read more about utility caps, check out this blog.   While this lease tactic isn’t necessarily going to generate more revenue, it will certainly encourage tenants to be more energy conscious so they avoid paying utility overages. Utility caps will often lead to lower utility bills when tenants are more cautious of their use.  2. Pet Rent or Pet FeeWith nearly 76% of millennials reporting they own pets, this lease clause is one that will apply to the bulk of student tenants. Instead of trying to enforce a no-pets policy which will end up turning away a sizable portion of...

Posted by on in Student Housing
A quick Google search of student housing news is bound to reveal hundreds of results discussing the amenity-laden luxury student housing that looks more like a vacation resort than student accommodations. On the other hand, trying to find news about other less luxurious forms of student housing is nearly impossible.   No one seems interested in hearing about an average student housing building that has the basics – not a lazy river, lavish fitness facility and infinity pools. Perhaps this lack of interest is why there isn’t a lot of investment in middle-market student housing, which is ripe with opportunity and a highly sought-after type of student accommodation.   While some may assume that luxury student housing is the more profitable sector, in many cases, middle-market student housing has better rental growth and lower vacancy rates. In 2015, Axiometrics found that the rental rate of a student bed grew by 2.2% on average, totaling $617/month. Compare this to older properties built in 1998 where rental rates increased by 4.3% to $542/month and buildings constructed in 2002 with a growth of 4.3% to $491/month.   Axiometrics also identified another subsector that can fall into the category of middle-market student housing – student-competitive properties – which are “…conventional properties that lease by-the-unit, but are located within three miles of a university. These properties aren’t necessarily cheaper, though, as Axiometrics found on average they cost $300 more a month on a per-bed basis for off-campus housing, but this varies from region to region. In some areas, student-competitive properties are priced well beneath purpose-built...

Posted by on in Student Housing
In a media driven world that is oversaturated with marketing messages and advertising, it’s hard to stand out. Generally speaking, student housing providers don’t have massive marketing budgets to purchase primetime television spots or launch massive guerilla marketing campaigns. Having said that, you don’t necessarily need a huge budget or a world-class marketing team to launch some outstanding campaigns.  Here’s our favorite student housing marketing campaigns from the last few years.   1. Landlord Lou – Killam PropertiesKillam Properties set out to target student renters in the Halifax area and to position their company as a leading student housing provider that cared about its tenants. With the help of Colour.ca, Killam launched the Landlord Lou campaign which focused on a fictional character that went above and beyond with helping young student renters.  Killam set up a temporary website called LandlordLou.ca (no longer operational), ran a competition for free rent for a year, created several YouTube promotional videos (some netting over 100,000+ views!) and various other marketing initiatives. Killam was successful in generating full occupancy in its properties and received exposure from national business media. Also, Landlord Lou won an ICE Award for the best online campaign.   2. St. Patricks Day Snapchat Geofilters – Varsity PropertiesVarsity Properties  has excelled in their student housing marketing initiatives and were one of the first student housing players in Canada to leverage Snapchat as a leasing tool.  Varsity Properties utilized Snapchat Geofilters for St. Patrick's Day which ended up being used 651 times and yielded an estimated 43,000 impressions....

Posted by on in Student Housing
September has come and gone; along with the majority of students seeking accommodations for the fall semester. In general, most colleges and universities have their largest intake of students during the fall term, which begins somewhere between mid-August to early September (some schools may operate on a different schedule such as a quarterly academic calendar).   Once October has hit, the amount of students seeking accommodations for fall has tapered off and the next major rush won’t happen until the winter intake. So what’s a landlord to do if they’ve still got vacancies after September?   Don’t panic! There is still a considerable amount of students who will need accommodations.     Students Who Did Not Get Into On-Campus Housing:Some colleges and universities have such competitive on-campus housing where there is more demand for assignments than available. Many students are put on a waiting list, while others are completely denied an on-campus accommodation. The students who are placed on a waiting list will sometimes hold off on securing other housing, hoping that someone drops out and they can take that spot. This waiting list can sometimes consist of hundreds of students vying for the last few on-campus housing spots. If they don’t get in, these students will be scrambling to find an off-campus accommodation during the first few weeks of school.  Exchange Students: It’s fairly common for most major colleges and universities to operate a study abroad program where students from different countries will come over to study for a few months....

Posted by on in Student Housing
While it’s difficult to predict the future, one thing is for certain – the student housing market will continue to grow. How exactly it will grow and evolve is something a bit more difficult to predict.   By looking at current and forecasted trends, it is possible to paint a picture of what the future might hold for the student housing industry. Here are a few predictions being discussed.   The amenity race will come to an end.At some point, purpose-built student housing professionals will simply run out of ideas when it comes to one-upping the competition with unique amenities. They will also identify some luxury amenities that aren’t attracting residents and determine the additional cost may not be worth it. Campus Advantage agrees, and predicts that the end of the amenity war is in sight. Campus Advantage stated that location is the most important amenity; far more important than the bells and whistles stuffed into luxury buildings. Student housing centralization will be the focal point.This point should come as no surprise. With location being the most important aspect of student housing for developers and students alike, we’ll continue to see centralization around campuses. Housing located miles away from campus will become increasingly less desirable as more properties become available in close distance to campus. Many college and university towns are now seeing high-rise purpose-built student developments being built and it is enabling a higher volume of students to live near campus. Axiometrics demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between proximity from...

Posted by on in Student Housing
Nostalgia can be incredibly powerful; that certainly has been demonstrated with the release of Pokemon Go in North America!   Pokemon Go isn’t just for kids either; baby boomers, millennials and Gen Z’s are all playing, which has attracted the attention of business and marketers. While coffee shops, cafes, and bars appear to be the first businesses to catch on to the marketing potential of Pokemon Go, other industries are watching and taking note.One realtor in Victoria, BC has already started to utilize Pokemon Go to lure interest into a home for sale. He’s not the only one doing this either; there are reports from San Francisco, Cincinnati, Williamsburg and more with realtors and renters using Pokemon Go in their marketing strategies. Student housing is an industry that could cash in on this opportunity in a few different ways.  1. Pokemon Go Lease Promotions:Some student housing properties are on the (poke)ball and have already launched Pokemon Go related marketing campaigns. Take RezOne Waterloo, for example. They are currently running a promotion where level 17+ Pokemon Go players can get a $200 Visa gift card when they sign a lease. Another example is The Hub at Columbia, where they are incorporating Charizard into a ‘hot summer deal’.Considering the bottom line is most important in apartment marketing (signing leases), it takes some brainstorming on how to employ Pokemon Go marketing strategies that generate ROI and lead to signing leases.   2. Catch-‘Em All Resident Party:   Credit goes to Axiometrics for coming up with this one – hosting a Catch-‘Em All resident party. Normally, a successful...