Industry Voices

Satyen Patel: The Evolution of Construction in Student Housing

Universities across the country are seeing an increased demand for state-of-the art student amenities. New dormitories are at the top of the list for many universities as their student population grows. But, as those of us in the industry know, construction on school campuses presents a number of unique challenges not shared by many other construction projects. The demand for on-schedule production, reduced waste, limited interruption and the need to stay on-budget are key factors that have little room for error.

Gilbert Davila: How to Fight Aggressive Property Tax Assessments

The student housing market is robust, generating strong market data that tax assessors are using to support increasingly aggressive property tax assessments. Thus, student housing owners must monitor their property values and arm themselves with the tools to fight excessive valuations. 

Craig Meddin: Why You Should Care About Online Shopping

The e-commerce revolution has changed consumers’ shopping patterns and generated downstream repercussions that business leaders like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett were out in front of early on. These e-commerce icons, of course, are early adopters of new technology who made fortunes by anticipating the opportunities associated with e-commerce. Back in 1996, Steve Jobs said, “The heart of the web will be commerce.” Warren Buffett sees online retailing as a massive growth opportunity, as evidenced by Berkshire’s recent acquisition of online retailer, Oriental Trading. Jeff Bezos, a founding father of e-commerce said this: “Your margin is my opportunity,” meaning his goals are to flood the marketplace with as many online purchases as possible (increasing package deliveries as a ripple effect). Is it working? In the United States, of all e-commerce growth in 2014 and 2015, Amazon accounted for 60 percent.

Jet McGuire, Norman Eastwood: Baylor University — Building Up, Not Out

Walkability is the latest industry term entrenching itself into the lexicon of nearly every student housing investor and developer. Not only is it changing vocabulary, it is clearly a market driver. Add to the mix, the increasing desire for luxury, purpose-built communities geared towards students. The net result of the two trends is altering both Waco’s student housing market and skyline, as developers shift their views from the ground to the sky to meet the latest demands of the student population.

Alexis Krisay: Summer Leasing Necessity — Selfie Tours

Engaging your prospects through Selfie Tours is this summer’s hidden gem to ensure that your property stays top of mind and is the first place they think of when making their last minute housing decision. While students may be out of the market for the summer holiday, they are not out of reach.

Tactics like selfie tours and digital tours of your property allow prospects — and their parents — to see the personality of your property through the leasing consultants’ eyes and enable them to feel like they are there walking through the property. These videos can then also be repurposed for social content and boosted on Facebook to target the top infill cities that your property’s prospects live in.

Alexis Jones: New Federal Rules Mark Cultural Shift for Many Companies by Redefining Limits for Exempt, Nonexempt Employees

Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, will require many student housing management companies to re-examine the classification, pay and job responsibilities of property-level employees in order to comply with the new rules by the time they take effect on Dec. 1.

FLSA was created in 1938 to define standards for the number of hours worked in a workweek and overtime pay, requiring most employees in the United States be paid overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. That said, FLSA provides exemptions from overtime pay for those who fit specific categories defined by their job duties, not their job titles. To qualify for exemption, employees must meet two tests: a duties test and a wage test.  

Joseph DeBuck: Here’s An Idea That Benefits Both Owners/Operators and Residents

The student housing industry is going strong. The bed count has grown by leaps and bounds and the quality of the assets that offer those beds has increased. Great locations, nicer accommodations, more amenities; it just keeps getting better for student residents.

While this eruption of innovation and progressive thinking continues to evolve, owners/operators/management companies all work toward the same fundamental goal — fill their beds and maximize profit. But “easier said than done” doesn’t begin to describe the challenges student housing companies face. Generally, the time-honored practice to fill beds is to entice the prospective resident with some sort of tangible benefit in the form of an incentive. Typically, the owner/operator/management companies absorb the cost of the incentive, citing the age-old business axiom, “it takes money to make money.”

Michael R. Ytterberg: Serving the Graduate Student Market with Market Rate Design

There’s no question that urban areas are experiencing an influx of millennials who seek an experience rich lifestyle. Upon moving to a new city, matriculating graduate students enter law, business, medical or other professional programs a bit older, with years of work experience and savings, or with parents who are willing to support them. Their tastes are a bit more refined, but they still want to find living arrangements that are not isolating and that have a strong sense of community, like what they experienced as undergraduates.

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