LeaseCon/ TurnCon Real Estate Conference Panel Recap

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Rising averages in student housing occupancy

Year after year, fewer students are living at home and on campus during their college years, opting for off-campus student housing options instead. From pricing to safety to amenities, off-campus luxury student housing is becoming the new norm for many college students. Many student housing properties are seeing an uptick of 10-20% in leasing and pre-leasing compared to just last year.

Even if numbers this high happen to be a one-year anomaly, the fact is, student housing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s only continuing to grow. Whether it be for safety reasons, amenity access, location convenience, pricing, or any number of factors to choose off-campus housing over dorm life, you don’t want to catch yourself falling behind on these marketing trends, or property management trends.

Manage growth expectations

As the demand grows for off-campus housing, so do the expectations for your property. As rent increases, so do the expectations of current and potential residents. See where we’re going with this?

2023 needs to be the year of self-reflection for your property; How can you enhance your amenities? What updates need to be made, both interior and exterior? What needs to be done to improve upon maintenance requests completion, satisfaction, and timeliness?

As you look toward reflection, rebranding, and renovation, your residents need to be at the forefront of your thought process, not only in what they’d like to see but what they’d like to receive. This is why image is just the first step when it comes to keeping up with the expectations of your off-campus housing property.

When looking to rebrand, or even just refresh your property, one of the most important—yet often forgotten—things to remember is to research your competitors. If you’re looking to be the property with the best value, best access, best amenities, etc., you need to be aware of what your competition is offering first, so you don’t join a long list of properties that offer the same talking points in today’s highly saturated markets.

Ensure quality services

Before you begin anything else, as you reflect on your property, you need to realistically understand your value, so you know what your most marketable assets are. When creating a marketing campaign, you must be able to ensure that ALL areas of your property are worth the value—not just the sparkling pool or hi-tech fitness center.

Analyze your maintenance reports, check on those areas that need repairing or updating, and make sure the parking is adequate for your current AND prospective residents—things like these are what is going to set you aside from a competitor with all of the same amenities or price points that you have to offer.

Quality will always rise over quantity when it comes to choosing a new home.

Effectively market rate increases

It’s no secret that rent payments have skyrocketed over the last few years following the rental boom that occurred during the height of COVID-19. While many rental payments are stabilizing toward what’s favorable in the market, people have really begun to see the potential that renting has to offer in different lifestyles—and that’s what you’re going to want your largest marketing point to be, moving forward.

Product type, quality, and proximity are going to be the key factors as you look toward not only improving your property to validate higher rental rates but being able to successfully apply marketing strategies to these higher rates as well. You need to be able to associate an experience with your property and its pricing, rather than just finishes.

Many new builds in off-campus housing have larger floor plan options with individual rent options, so a student looking to move in with friends has the same abilities as one looking to be assigned a roommate. Many properties say new supply leased up to 86% in 2022, which was up 6% YoY (year-over-year).

These numbers prove that as we move forward, there will continue to be a subset of students who will remain willing to pay the higher rates for higher quality, product type, and proximity ratings, as they know they will more than likely spend 2+ years living in these properties.

The success of AI leasing & marketing efforts

As we move into a time where AI has become more normalized than ever, it’s relevant to address whether or not it’s a useful tool in your leasing and marketing efforts, or if it should be left to handle other tasks.

We’ve all been there, dealing with an AI bot for support at a property, store, etc. where we only really want to get in touch with a real person once the bot has proven it can’t help us in the way we need. Is this really something that you want to be handling potential leases and prospective residents?

As Millennials and Gen Z take over the real estate market, both in home-buying and renting, we’re seeing a generation of buyers and renters that value authenticity, and don’t want to waste any time. Studies have shown that AI responses are often seen as stoic, cold, and generic if they’re able to warrant a relevant response at all.

When a client has a question that falls outside the lines of a templated response, they’re left to resubmit whatever information they’ve already inquired about, if they even choose to continue looking for answers at all. At this step, many prospective residents would bounce from the site where AI was being used, resulting in potentially lost leasing.

While AI can come in handy in any number of ways, leasing and marketing aren’t the places where you want to place so much reliance on something that doesn’t necessarily have all of the answers.

You want your residents—both current and prospective—to feel special, and get a sense of personalization from any support they need, and they’re not going to get that from AI.

Standing out in a saturated market

As we’ve discussed how common off-campus housing is becoming for college students, it also means that we’re dealing with a heavily saturated market. Here’s how to ensure you stand out from the competition, and don’t get lost in the shuffle:

Content consumption

Keep in the loop of knowing the content your demographic is consuming at high rates in order to stay ahead of your competitors. This can be done through hosting resident events that follow popular trends, as well as knowing what kind of content to create for your own marketing strategies. This shows you’re taking the time to really understand the needs and desires of your residents.

Create a consistent experience

Ensuring both your marketing and digital marketing efforts follow a cohesive pattern is a huge part of landing a sense of authenticity, and understanding of your brand image with current and prospective residents. Your messaging won’t get the attention it deserves if your marketing strategies seem to be coming from two different areas. (Psst, Threshold can help with that!)

Lifestyle enhancement

As we’ve spoken about how Millennials and Gen Z are taking over the real estate market, it’s important to recognize what areas of your marketing strategy need to change in order to best appeal to this changing audience. For this generation, there is so much more to emphasize than four walls and a roof over their head, and pricing points. Their lifestyle is their priority because they are coming into and establishing their adulthood.

This isn’t a generation that is going to sacrifice the things they want and feel they deserve to save a quick buck or choose the most convenient option—you need to let them know how you’re going to value and enhance their lifestyle, no matter what that may look like.

Before you go

Don’t forget, we’re experts when it comes to crafting marketing strategies that drive leasing results & building high-ranking SEO-friendly custom websites! Need help? Reach out to a CSM or any of our team members to get started on taking your marketing and SEO to the next level, see an increase in traffic, and watch the leads roll in.

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