Student Housing ‘Ripe With Opportunity’ in Real Estate

July 9, 2014

Student housing is getting more attention from the real estate industry as more developers take their projects upscale and bring them on campus.

“This is an industry that is ripe with opportunity,” Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities, the largest student-housing REIT in the country, told CNBC. “If you look at the student housing sector, it was ignored by the mainstream real estate industry for more than 40 years.”

Budget constraints have forced major universities to allow private investors onto campus for real estate developments, investors that once mostly had to center their student housing development off-campus.

The millennial generation is reshaping student housing too, with a demand for dorms that offer private suites with full kitchens and baths opposed to the traditional double rooms and communal spaces. The buildings also include extras like large physical fitness centers, movie theaters, and virtual driving ranges.

Housing experts say more attention needs to be devoted to the student housing sector. Aging dormitories built for the baby boom generation need to be replaced, and the student population in colleges is growing. Student housing’s growth is also being driven by international interest. Foreign student enrollment is estimated to jump to 12 percent by 2021, compared to about 5 percent in 2006. Also, more baby boomers are retiring in college towns that are drying up vacancies in nearby apartments and are limiting off-campus options for students, CNBC reports.

Source: “Investors Get Schooled in Housing,” CNBC (July 8, 2014)