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“Turn” it Up Student Housing Style

“Turn” it Up Student Housing Style
All too soon, summer is coming to a close and the back to school season is upon us! This means student housing operators are in full turn mode. In addition to the herculean task of matching hundreds of 18-to-21-year-olds into harmonious groups and assigning them to units, each year managers of student properties have only an average two-week window in which to turn a very high volume of its units. After picking the brains of student operators across the country about these unique challenges, we’ve compiled a few tips to help make for a more smooth turn week and move-in process for property managers and residents: “Turn” It All Digitally: As many of you can attest, turning an entire property entails endless amounts of work orders and status updates that need to be sent to a myriad of vendors and staff working on the property simultaneously. Rid yourselves of paperwork, spreadsheets and charts on the whiteboard. A digital “make ready” board allows you to input the make ready status of each individual unit in one place and update everyone involved on the assigned and completed tasks. In addition, stacks of leasing paperwork, phones ringing off the hook in the leasing office and long lines on move-in day can all be eliminated by ensuring residents know the policies, procedures, and tools available to them for the move-in and leasing processes. Eliminate paper checks and stacks of paper on move-in day by automatically enrolling new residents in a program that allows them to fill out leasing paperwork, upload important documents, make payments online and receive updates f......
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7 Ways To Create An Advantage In a Highly Competitive Student Housing Market

7 Ways To Create An Advantage In a Highly Competitive Student Housing Market
The competitive landscape in student housing has evolved. Rental markets which once faced student housing shortages are now inching their way to surpluses. This trend has lead landlords and property managers to get creative with their rental offerings, in order to establish a competitive advantage in their respective markets.   While there is no surefire formula for success, when it comes to establishing a competitive advantage, there are several tactics that can be implemented to have an edge on the competition.  1. Make the property pet-friendly: A recent study found that more than 76% of millennials own a cat or dog. If a property has a no-pets policy, this could potentially mean that only about ¼ of the millennial renter market would be interested in the property. Needless to say, by refusing to accept pets, a landlord is drastically shrinking their potential tenant pool in the student housing industry.  2. Offer highly sought after amenities at no additional charge:J Turner Research identified that two of the top amenities that student renters seek are in-unit washer/dryer and extended cable/Wi-Fi. In many cases though, landlords charge extra for these features. For example, most properties which offer laundry facilities charge a few dollars per load through coin-operated appliances. Instead, landlords should consider offering this service at no additional charge; while factoring the cost into the monthly rent. This strategy can also be applied to parking, as it was the fourth most important amenity desired by student tenants.    3. Offer referral bonuses:Referral bonuses are a great ......
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Where to find free stock photography that feels authentic

I have a confession. I am a total photography snob. I cringe ever so slightly anytime I see that generic college kid that seems way to happy to be holding 5 textbooks and a Jansport backpack. Whether its developing a website or creating a flyer, if you don't have imagery that conveys authenticity, you'll be looked over. The best option, of course, is to use custom imagery; photos that were taken by professionals with your brand and project in mind. In the real world, custom imagery takes time, money and coordination, three things that are often hard to come by.    In a pinch, stock photography can be useful. The trick is to find photos that feel authentic. Photos that feel unique. Photos that you won't see on your competitor's billboard. Oh, and free would be nice too (stock photography can get expensive after all). Our design team at Pixel Riot is always on the lookout for unique imagery that we can use for our Multifamily clients that cannot, for whatever reason, use custom imagery. We wanted to share some of our favorite sites. Here are 5 commercial-use stock photography websites that we think are pretty bad-ass. Each site provides free high-resolution photos, often with more added weekly.   Pexels.com Pexels has a great collection of free, high resolution photos that really feel authentic. This site has no shortage of pictures portraying the 18 to 24 year old demographic doing everything from swimming to texting and more. This is easily one......
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Blood Muffins And Other Social Media Disasters To Avoid

Social media is a powerful force. Most of the time that's a good thing. For some of you, it's the lifeblood of your brand's voice. But sometimes, social media can turn against you and in one trending hashtag, your brand is destroyed. Here are 5 such examples and how to avoid them.   5. J.P. Morgan AMA (Ask Me Anything) J.P. Morgan, the firm that helped underwrite Twitter’s IPO, decided to do an AMA with the hashtag #ASKJPM. For those that do not know what an AMA is, think interview but with the entire internet. The problem was, J.P. has been accused of everything from embezzling money for the Mexican drug cartels to involvement in the highly publicized Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Obviously, regardless of guilt or innocence, these were not topics that could be discussed over a Twitter hashtag. When thousands of tweets came in asking about scandals the company couldn’t answer, J.P. Morgan was forced to cancel the AMA the following day. The lesson: If you’re not prepared to answer tough questions, do not engage in an interview style that is literally titled "Ask Me Anything". If you want to have an open conversation with your customers, nothing can be off the table. Anything short of complete transparency and candor will be met with hostility and ultimately lead to a public relations nightmare.    4. Marriot #BloodMuffins For 9/11’s 14 year anniversary a Marriott hotel decided to offer free muffins and coffee “in remembrance of those we lost on 9/11”. Wa......
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The Future of Student Housing : 5 Fascinating Projects

The Future of Student Housing : 5 Fascinating Projects
Over the last decade, the market has seen a dramatic increase in the number of purpose-built student housing complexes. As student housing progresses more and more, innovation and modernization are being brought to this style of accommodation. Here are some unique and non-traditional examples of where the future of student housing may be heading.  1. Hub 01 Mobile Student Housing (Developed by dmvA and A3 Architects)     Image © Mick Couwenbergh Full Photo Gallery HereWhen someone speaks of mobile housing, the first thing that typically comes to mind is trailers; but Hub 01 is nothing like a trailer! Hub 01 has revolutionized the concept of mobile student housing with their concept resting on three main principles: mobility, personalization and an educational design.According to Arch Daily, the idea behind this project is to, “….provide an opportunity for students to take their own room to different places and attach it to a central terminal by a ‘plug-in’ system… By a simple connecting system, the individualized rooms can be attached to the terminal.”Each of the rooms has their own customized concept, which can be attached to the central terminal.      2. Tietgenkollegiet (Designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg)    Full Photo Gallery Here  While Tietgenkollegiet isn’t necessarily new (it was completed in 2006), it is still a leading model for the future of student housing. Tietgenkollegiet is aptly referred to as the “residence hall of the future”. The concept behind this residence hall is to create a space where students can grow both personally and socially in co......
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Student Housing just for Students? Nope...it's for Parents too!

Student Housing just for Students? Nope...it's for Parents too!
I spent the better part of ten years as a director for a student housing property management company. I’ve often said managing a student housing community is a lot like herding cats. They live an active lifestyle and they rarely sleep! However, as challenging as the students could be, they were not the biggest management challenge. That designation was reserved for their parents. After having worked extensively in student housing, I am now in an interesting and somewhat unique situation. I have two children—my son Zach and my daughter Kalee—who will be freshmen this year at two different colleges. My son will live off-campus and my daughter will be living on-campus. I can now truly relate to how the parents I dealt with felt. I feel the anxiety of setting up housing for my kids. Obviously, like all parents, I want a safe, clean apartment where my children can study and have a positive social experience. I am afraid that I am turning into the type of parent that always caused me the most trouble in managing student housing… the dreaded helicopter parent! If you have not had the opportunity to be a parent of a new college student, let me share with you a little of what it is like. The child that you have raised and spent your time, energy and money on has grown up and is on their way to college. For many parents, like me, this will be the first time that they are separated from their child for a signifi......
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How To Keep Student Tenants For Their Entire Academic Career

How To Keep Student Tenants For Their Entire Academic Career
Finding new tenants each academic year can be a real burden on landlords and property managers. Tenant retention is an important issue which sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to student housing. Generally speaking, most college and university programs last between 2 to 4 years.   Many student renters will change up their accommodation each passing year, making landlords constantly on the hunt for new tenants. The process of replacing student tenants each year can be both time-consuming and costly. This process often involves a full cleaning of the rental, extensive planning and marketing, responding to email and phone inquiries, screening applicants and finally selecting the tenants.   But what if a landlord could keep student tenants for their entire academic career? Here are some tips on how to accomplish that!   Incentivize longer leases: One method to encourage an extended lease is to offer a discounted rental rate if a longer lease is signed. For example, a 1-year lease would have a rental price of $1,000 per month, 2-year would be $950 per month, 3-year would be $900 per month and so forth. A tenant could save quite a bit of money if they are willing to commit to a longer lease.  Offer discounted rent during months they aren’t occupying the rental:Most academic programs only last 8-9 months and typically students will be locked into a 12-month lease, where they pay for a few months when they aren’t occupying the unit. One option to help student tenants is to allow subletting. Ano......
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The Next Generation of Renters - Generation Z

The Next Generation of Renters - Generation Z
The end of 2014 marks one decade since the millennial generation came to its end. Starting in 1982, the millennial generation spanned all the way until 2004, according to William Strauss and Neil Howe, who coined the term millennial. As of 2005, a new generation began - Generation Z.Using 2005 as the point of reference, within the next several years, the first crop of Generation Z will be entering the rental market, mostly as student tenants. Just as the student housing industry came to understand the millennial renter’s needs and desires, it’s already time to start thinking about this next generation of renters.   Considering the eldest of Generation Z is only 10 years old now, it’s somewhat difficult to project exactly what type of renters they will be or their accommodation preferences. However, by using some of the research done on millennial renters, we can predict the accommodation trends that are likely to extend into Generation Z.   One trend that’s almost certain to continue is making accommodations more than just a place for tenants to lay their heads. What this means is that as of late, purpose-built student housing providers have been making an effort to create an atmosphere that supports a balanced lifestyle. These accommodations represent a place to work, play and live. Generation Z renters are likely to expect even more out of their accommodations than their predecessors, the millennials. It’ll eventually become commonplace for purpose-built student housing properties to have a variety of communal areas, recreational rooms and other spa......
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Top 10 Complaints Made by Student Renters & How to Handle Them

Top 10 Complaints Made by Student Renters & How to Handle Them
Student tenants specifically come with their own set of unique expectations and some common problems that may be encountered. Here are ten of the most common complaints voiced by student renters and insight on how to effectively handle these issues.   The landlord/maintenance person takes too long to fix things.Student renters live in an era of instant gratification, where they expect things to be delivered upon quickly; this is especially true for repairs in their accommodations. One of the most common complaints from student renters is the time it takes for things to be fixed by their landlord or maintenance team. The solution to this complaint is quite simple - promptly repair things or be honest about delays, if a repair cannot be made within a reasonable time frame.J Turner Research surveyed nearly 12,000 students and when asked about repair times for something broken in their apartment, 30% of students expected the repair to be completed in 24 hours or less. Even more shocking, 23% of students expected it to be fixed in 6 hours or less.  I didn’t get my security deposit back.This ranks at the top of the complaint list. Disputes often arise over the return of a security deposit, when a student renter is set to move out. Landlords can avoid this potential conflict by simply doing a walk-through with the tenant and specifically detailing what needs to be done in order for the student to get the full security deposit back. If the landlord cannot arrange a walk-through t......
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How to Win Friends and Influence Millennials

How to Win Friends and Influence Millennials
I’ve always felt jipped out of the really cool amenities (heck, even really lame ones); first, there was school. I went to a tiny liberal arts college in Virginia. The campus was old, including the dorms for men, so amenities weren’t really a thing-- my freshman year was the first year the dorms had wifi (granted this was back in ‘09). Upperclassmen housing wasn’t much better, consisting mostly of town homes. We had wifi and cable, that was basically it. After college I moved across the country to Utah, lived in student housing a little longer (it was cheap!) and had as sparse amenities as I did in Virginia, and now I live in a condo owned by the bassist in my roommate/best friend’s band in a community where, you guessed it, we’re sparse on amenities. I think we have a tennis court? The point of the story is that the next time I move, if it’s not into a house, it’s going to be into a community with some freaking sweet amenities… and being able to afford it shouldn’t have to be a problem. By this point, many of these amenities should be standard. But what amenities should I be looking for? What amenities do people (millennials like me, specifically) really want? The most sought after amenity is a fitness center. But why not expand on that? Biking related amenities and anything related to the outdoors are on a rise. Adding an outdoor running and biking trail will give residents a nicer alternative......
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