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Student Housing Blog - Places4Students

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The Best Cities to Invest in Student Housing in Canada - 2017 Edition

  In late 2015, Places4Students published one of our most widely circulated blogs, The Best Cities in Canada to Invest in Student Housing – Province by Province. Since then, the market has grown considerably as more purpose-built student housing has developed throughout Canada, inevitably changing the market landscape. We decided to revisit this topic and once again highlight some of the best cities in Canada to invest in student housing.   The methodology for determining the best cities was based on collecting CMHC data, college and university enrolment statistics, average real estate prices and other rental market data. Other criteria included student enrolment and projected growth, average rental rates, availability of on-campus housing, vacancy rates, number of academic institutions and more.*The following data reflects vacancy, average rental, turnover and availability rates from 2015 to 2016. The average rental rates are based on two bedroom apartments.   Ontario – Peterborough: Last year, Guelph held the number one spot. According to Alan Mason from TrilliumWest, the three key success factors for Guelph included: low vacancy rates, coupled with limited housing options for students, increased enrolment and an improving housing market. Although Guelph is still a top city for student housing investment this year, the number one spot goes to Peterborough. Peterborough has some very favourable rental market conditions:   ·       Vacancy rate dropped from 3.7% to 1.0% ·       Average rental rate (2 bedroom) rose from $959/month to $980/month ·       Turnover rate of 17.4% is the fourth lowest in Ontario ·       Availability rate dropped from 5.1% to 2.2% ·&n......
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Graduate Student Housing Shortage: An Underserved Market?

Graduate Student Housing Shortage: An Underserved Market?
In many college and university communities, there are complaints about too much student housing, but this problem tends to be the polar opposite for graduate student housing. In numerous rental markets across North America, there is a lack of on-campus graduate student housing available, often resulting in fierce competition and long application wait-lists.   The shortage of graduate student housing at many campuses has become a contentious issue, as the following cases illustrate.   At UC San Diego there was a reported 2,500-person wait-list for graduate student housing. Many are left to find alternative options in the off-campus housing market. At Brown University campus housing is not guaranteed for graduate students and only 100 of the university’s 2,000 graduate students live in Brown-owned housing, due to lack of options and availability. McMaster University, boasting a graduate student population of over 4,000, has no designated graduate housing at all. However, the university is exploring options to build their first graduate residence in the very near future. The University of Miami has foregone the idea of providing graduate student housing in their ten-year housing plan and opted to prioritize the undergraduate population.   Problems relating to a shortage of graduate or family housing are nothing new; however, the earliest mention of the issue we could find dates back to August 1947 at Harvard University.So why is there such a shortage of graduate student housing?   There are a few reasons that potentially attribute to the shortage:  Undergraduate student populations tend to be significantly larger than the amount of graduate s......
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Student Housing - The End of Marketing to Millennials & the Rise of Gen Z

The term millennial doesn’t have a clear-cut definition but is ever-present when it comes to apartment marketing. Commonly, millennial is often used as a catch-all phrase referring to nearly any young renter that falls beneath the age of 30. But what is the actual period when millennials were born? Chances are, if you were to try to pin down the exact time frame for the millennial generation, you’d encounter some conflicting answers. ·     Born between 1977 to 1994 – Metlife ·     Born between 1980 to 2000 – Time Magazine ·     Born between 1982 to 2004 – Demographers William Straus and Neil Howe ·     Born between 1983 to 2000 – US Public Interest Research Group By and large, the consensus is that the last millennials were born around the year 2000, which would currently make the youngest millennials 17 years old; which is around the age most students graduate from high school and go off to college or university. This group is what we classify as the last millennial class. The proactive student-housing marketer knows that this is the end of the road for marketing to the millennial generation - but what’s next? Move aside Millennials – get ready for Generation Z. While the last class of millennials could potentially still have another 4 to 5 years in student housing, the focus will largely be shifted to Generation Z now. Much like the millennial generation, there isn’t a defined date range for Gen Z; but most often quoted as between 2001 to 2015. Using this timeframe would mean the eldest group of Gen Z would be heading off to college or university in the n......
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How to Leverage Free User-Generated Content for Apartment Marketing & Social Media

Creating and curating content for apartment marketing and social media can be time-consuming, costly and involve using a lot of creative capital. Many apartment communities simply do not have the resources to employ an entire marketing team, so staff often have to multitask.   Property managers are sometimes responsible for far more than just marketing; their duties can involve graphic design, social media, resident event management, lease up programs and more. Due to the multi-tasking nature of these positions, focusing a lot of time and energy on content is practically impossible. However, curating content from tenants or staff isn’t nearly as strenuous on time or resources. An article written by Bill Gates all the way back in 1996, titled Content Is King, emphasized the value of content far before Internet marketing ever took off.  Many of Gates predictions came true and content has reigned supreme in online marketing. The average Internet user consumes a large diet of content; but also produces content as well – this user-generated content is an often-overlooked area for apartment marketing content curation.   User-generated content is extremely valuable for several reasons, most importantly being that it resonates better with users and develops a better brand image. User-generated content also appears more genuine and authentic. Consider some of the following stats:   1.     Bazaarvoice found 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is a good indicator of the quality of a brand. 2.     Adweek discovered that user-generated content results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or w......
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Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity

Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, once stated, “It's difficult to imagine the power that you're going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.” The collection of big data online has increasingly played a vital role in analyzing consumer trends and popularity; and as of 2015, this data became even more accessible, thanks to Google Trends.  Google Trends allows the general public to access the world’s largest real-time datasets, enabling the average user to seek out data about what’s most searched and what’s most popular. This data is particularly useful to a marketer, who can analyze information for any respective industries.   Google Trends can be applied to the student housing industry in a variety of ways and can help in answering questions like:   When are students searching online for student housing most? What geographic areas have the highest search volume for student housing? What other topics related to student housing are users searching for?   To showcase how Google Trends can be utilized to gather information about student housing, we’ve provided a few different search query examples. 1. Determine the most popular states and provinces for student housing search queries:The graphs below show search data for ‘student housing’ from April 2016 – April 2017 for both the United States and Canada.For the United States, the top 5 states were Utah, Hawaii, Mississippi, Idaho and Colorado (honorable mentions to Montana and Rhode Island, who were a point or two behind Colorado).     For Canada, the top 5 provinces were On......
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Are Virtual Reality Tours The Next Big Thing In Student Housing?

Are Virtual Reality Tours The Next Big Thing In Student Housing?
Since 2003, one of our key recommendations for landlords looking to enhance their online rental listing has been great photography. Photography has been a staple in the multifamily rental industry for well over a decade now; but it may find itself eventually replaced by virtual reality tours and 3D floor plans.Student housing is a prime market segment that is likely to be at the frontier of virtual reality tours, especially as they become increasingly more affordable, accessible and easy to facilitate. Virtual reality tours go a step beyond photos and video, whereas they allow for an immersive and interactive experience for student renters, without leaving the comfort of their current home. Out-of-state or out-of-country students typically cannot arrange for in-person tours of accommodations, which is where virtual reality triumphs.So will virtual reality tours be the next big thing for marketing in student housing? The current market environment would lead us to believe so.There are already a handful of major student housing players that have adopted and started to implement virtual reality tours including:   Domus Student Housing Campus Suites Varsity Properties Campus Life & Style Campus Apartments   UForis VR that works with Domus Student Housing conducted a case study on the units they equipped with VR tours and saw a 20% increase in year-over-year monthly number of units rented. In addition, Domus Student Housing saw a significant decrease in workload for their leasing agents and estimated that it resulted in 40-50% less work.Even on-campus housing properties are taking an interest in VR, as MacEwan University Residence has......
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Why Snapchat May Not Be a Viable Marketing Platform for Student Housing

Why Snapchat May Not Be a Viable Marketing Platform for Student Housing
Snapchat, as of late, has been a hot topic in the student housing market. Earlier in the year at the 2017 NAA Student Housing Conference & Exhibition, a session covered social media trends in student housing and highlighted Snapchat as a platform ripe with marketing potential. As NAA put it, Snapchat is dominating the student housing marketing conversation. But is the marketing potential all it’s cracked up to be? While there are plenty of great free Snapchat marketing techniques for resident engagement and interaction, paid marketing opportunities on the platform are limited for student housing providers.   Common advertising objectives such as getting new leases signed, driving website traffic to listings or booking on-site tours are just a few of the goals that would be difficult to accomplish through Snapchat marketing. Some other key limitations student housing providers should be aware of are listed below. 1. Extremely High Ad Costs: Snapchat currently only has three paid advertising options:   ·      Snap Ads: As of February 2017, there was a minimum campaign buy-in of $10,000/month.   ·      Sponsored Lenses: These cost between $450,000 to $700,000+/day, depending on the day and other factors.   ·      On-Demand Geofilters: The price depends on a few factors, such as the size of the Geofence area and the duration for which it will run. On average, Buffer puts the cost at about $5 per 20,000 square feet for a Geofilter. However, if a large area were to be selected, say the entire Drake University campus, the cost coul......
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Showing Tenants Some Love - The Rise of Tenant Rewards & Perks Programs

Showing Tenants Some Love - The Rise of Tenant Rewards & Perks Programs
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 free $3......
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New Technologies & Emerging Trends in Student Housing

New Technologies & Emerging Trends 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 lea......
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All-Inclusive or Non-Inclusive: Which Option Is Best For Student Housing?

All-Inclusive or Non-Inclusive: Which Option Is Best For 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 m......
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