Planning for Student Vacancies - Property Vista

December 05, 2012

Planning for Student Vacancies

In previous posts, we’ve explored the pros and cons of student tenants. One of the advantages of renting to students is that you have a pretty good idea of when to start marketing as student vacancies are cyclical. They tend to look for housing from late January through to March for May 1st occupancy, and during July and August for September 1st occupancy.

If you rent to students, your thoughts are likely turning to the inevitable planning for the 2013 school year. With January fast approaching, now is a good time to revisit your advertising plan and make sure that it’s designed to effectively reach your target audience.

Go Digital

A recent U.S. survey, which included the results of more than 500 college students, showed that 53% of students ranked Google and Internet searches as the most important means of finding a place to live. Friends’ and family’s recommendations came next on the list, with 37% and 27%, respectively.

Two of the main reasons that online searching is so popular among students are efficiency and effectiveness:

  • Using the Internet reduces the search time, saving the students time and energy.
  • It turbo-charges the search as student renters can potentially double and triple the number of vacant units they look at, allowing them to narrow down their search and focus on the rentals that best meet their needs.

As a landlord or property management firm, it’s clearly in your best interests to find tenants who are a good fit for your building. In addition, online advertising is often more cost effective than traditional print marketing, making it a powerful, economical tool when trying to reach prospective student tenants.

Don’t Forget About Mom

In an article that delves into the boom of upscale student housing in the US market, Forbes points out that “parents are eager to house their children – daughters, especially – in secure accommodations that include private bedrooms and bathrooms.” With this in mind, it’s important not to overlook security and other parent-pleasing aspects of your building when deciding what features to promote in your advertising.

If your building has security cameras in the parking lot, or is within a short walk of campus, or on a regular bus route – these are key features that will appeal to both the renters and their parents.

Other services, like convenient online rent payment systems, are particularly advantageous for parents, as rent can be deduced from the parents’ bank accounts or credit card. (Preventing Little Johnny from using the rent money for other extracurricular activities that may involve the student pub.)

Students often rely on family members for guidance in choosing a place to live. Making the right impression can go a long way toward getting parents to co-sign on the dotted line.

Traditional Methods Still Work for Student Vacancies

All this focus on digital advertising shouldn’t discourage you from using more conventional means of promotion. Placing advertisements in student newspapers is always a good idea, and always monitor your conversion rates to apply your marketing efforts wisely. You can reach out to student housing offices to post bulletins on their boards. Just be sure not to underestimate the importance of online advertising – especially given today’s tech-savvy youth.

Make it an Easy Choice

The fact is that students are actively looking for a great place to live. All you have to do is make your student vacancies as easy as possible to find, and clearly highlight the key selling points of your building so that the apartment hunt leads to your front door.

How do you attract student renters? Let us know in the comments.

(Photo Credit: Univers beeldbank)

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Jack Beaton Sterling Karamar, Property Management
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