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Student Housing Wants and Needs

Student Housing Wants and Needs
This week marks a special time for many college students: the beginning of the fall semester. Students may be feeling the pressure of getting all their books, supplies, and living essentials in order, especially if this is their first time away from home. One aspect that many may overlook or not spend enough thought on is exactly where they’re going to live. Students may be unfamiliar with the area and unsure of what to look for in a student housing community. Many have already made their living arrangements but there’s still an opportunity for “late registrations.” Here are the top things students look for in a community. Proximity to Campus Students will seek communities close to campus. However, these communities fill up and are more than likely completely leased. On the flip side, don’t count out students who are seeking a good deal on rent. If your community can’t offer a short distance to campus, make up for it through affordable rent. Students will trade a longer commute for savings in the long run. Student Room Sizes College dorms can be the equivalent of living inside a closet. That’s why many seek off-campus housing. Students need room to study in peace; there’s nothing worse than having a roommate playing video games three feet away from you while studying for the big exam. They also desire privacy; that’s why they’re interested in an off-campus community. Show students how you can provide space and privacy and you’ll have an upper hand. Furnished Spaces Think about this from a student’s perspective: the less they have to move,......
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Potential Nightmares That Occur When Students Post Apartments on Airbnb

With many short-term subletting options available for renters looking at posting their apartments on sites like Airbnb, couch surfer, vrbo, HomeAway, and others, it has now become easy for anyone to make that extra buck off that empty room (or couch) in a short period.  A recent study reveals that the leader in short-term rental, Airbnb, is now active in 192 countries, 57,000 cities and 173,000 units are listed in the US alone. With such phenomenal numbers, what does that mean for a property management company? Trimark Properties, a student housing property management firm based in Gainesville, Florida, is experiencing our first web-2.0 year, with students posting their apartments on the popular short-term rental websites. We offer apartments near UF and typically leases to University of Florida College students who enter into one-year lease terms, and we recently discovered a listing for one of our apartments on Airbnb, where the tenant had used photos and text from the Trimark Properties website. Many of Trimark’s renters are only attending college for ten months, but their apartment lease contracts are twelve months long. The renter, therefore, has two months when they will not be living in the apartment but has to pay rent. Does that give them a free ticket to use sites such as Airbnb to collect additional rent from a stranger while they are away on vacation? “Our lease agreement specifically prohibits our tenants from listing their apartments on short-term rental websites. Most of the people who rent apartments in Gainesville are......
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Social Media Faux Pas for Student Housing Managers and Communities

Social Media Faux Pas for Student Housing Managers and Communities
Let’s rewind a decade to the beginning of 2005: Blockbuster was still in its prime. Facebook was still called “the Facebook”, membership was exclusive to select colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and it boasted roughly 5 million registered users. For business purposes, social media was largely nonexistent at this point. Since then, organizations have begun adopting social media as a means to sell products and services, provide customer support, and to engage with their audiences. While many businesses and organizations identified the need to be on social media, once they got there, they often didn’t know exactly what to do. In particular, the student housing industry has been relatively slow at adopting social media. The communities that have accepted it often have difficulty navigating the social media landscape and understanding how to effectively use it. This inexperience with using social media can cause some student housing communities to commit what we refer to as a social media faux pas. We’ve highlighted some of the key faux pas to avoid committing below.   1. Registering for Every Social Media Platform Imaginable While it does make sense for a student housing community to secure a brand name on social platforms, there are many different social media networks that aren’t a good fit for these brands. It’s productive to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ but not necessarily on Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Ello, Flickr, etc. (you get the point). Rather than signing up for every social media platform, it’s best to focus on the on......
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Maintaining a High Renewal Rate

Maintaining a High Renewal Rate
Different properties tend to have typical rental cycles, depending on their residents. For example, properties in cities with a lot of students tend to turn over apartments either at the beginning or end of the summer. Of course, when students graduate, there isn’t much property owners can do to entice them to stick around. New jobs in new cities or the low rent available in childhood homes are difficult to compete with. However, if your tenants are not students or if you want to keep students in their apartments until the end of their college careers, there are a few things you can do to keep your lease renewals high. The top three factors people cite when discussing their decisions to renew are maintenance services, safety and security, and customer service. If you deliver these on these factors all the time, you can be certain to keep your renewal rate high. When tenants call with a maintenance issue or show up in the leasing office asking for help, send someone over quickly with the tools they’ll likely need to fix the problem. Doing so keeps tenants happy and makes the management team look efficient. People should always feel safe in their homes, whether they’re behind a locked door or crossing the parking lot. Make sure your property is well-lit and that burned out bulbs in fixtures are replaced quickly. If incidents like theft or vandalism take place on the property, inform tenants quickly so that they can take extra precautions, and work with ......
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Targeted Apartment Marketing For Qualified Traffic – Bedroom Versus Office

Apartment Marketing for Qualified Traffic

I absolutely love targeted apartment marketing ideas, as long as they are within the confines of Fair Housing rules.  I recently found this conversation about a marketing approach that catered towards professionals versus students.

Apartment Marketing for Qualified Traffic

I want to note that the point of sharing this is not to advocate against students by saying they are bad renters, but rather highlight how property managers use targeting strategies to fit their particular goals.  It just happened that these property managers favored professionals rather than students, but there are obviously countless strategies that would work in the opposite way to attract students. 

It appears that the fear of Fair Housing often leads property managers to water down their apartment marketing to appeal to every single person possible, but I think this is a brilliant approach to using the wants/needs of their target demographic to drive interest from a particular group.  (Although their use of "young" is probably not appropriate from a Fair Housing perspective)  Anything that (legally) gets us out of the one size fits all mode I think is a step forward, in my opinion.

(To some property managers who have been in this industry a long time, targeted marketing like this is nothing new, but please keep in mind that we always have a fresh group of new, inspired property management professionals who are looking to expand their knowledge!)

Brent Williams is Chief Insider of Multifamily Insiders.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn or on Facebook.

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