Great point, Brent! That's also where AFPOE can be helpful. Responses which come off like "because...
Wendy Dorchester
Hire for culture, train for skill! Love this. Jared, you have always emulated great culture in every...
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Posted by on 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...

Posted by on in 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...

Posted by on in Student Housing
Author: Yiwei Chen&Shenchen Han According to the data from the Open Doors Report published by the Institute of International education (IIE), the number of Chinese students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8.1% to 328,547 during the 2015/16 academic year, comprising 31.5% of all international students studying in the U.S. China has remained the leading place of origin for international students in the U.S for 7 years and this is the 12th consecutive year that the Open Doors data show growth in the total international students from China.     Chart Sources: The New York Times; Open doors report, Institute of International Education   These strong increases have profound influences on the economy of the United States. International students pay much higher out-of-state tuitions which provide considerable revenue to the host universities. Besides, international students contribute large amount of moneys into the local economies to pay for living expenses, such as accommodation, transportation, dining, supplies and health insurance. The housing market is one of the local markets which will be greatly benefited from the arrivals of Chinese students so the residential preferences of this group should be concerned.   An article written by Su Hua lists some personal and household characteristics of renters who are Chinese students in the U.S., including: (1)   Less than 30% of the Chinese renters have a car available. (2)   The average family size of them is pretty small, which is only 1.6. (3)   Very few of them are married and even less...

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....