Austin, Texas — American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) reported that its portfolio had an occupancy rate of 90.3 percent as of Sept. 11, 2020, after removing approximately 1,300 “no-shows” at open market leasing properties. This percentage also reflects assigned occupancy levels at on-campus communities administered by the company’s university partners. The Austin-based REIT posted a portfolio-wide occupancy rate of 97.4 percent on Sept. 30, 2019, netting a year-over-year decline of 710 basis points.
“Throughout June and July, we were encouraged by leasing trends and consumer sentiment reflecting students’ desire to be in the college environment with their peers, regardless of universities’ ultimate plans for curriculum delivery being online or in-person,” said Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities. “Since that time, as universities have toggled between methods of curriculum delivery in response to COVID-19, we are pleased to have seen that sentiment continue among sophomore and upper-division students and have continued to make leasing progress at our properties that primarily serve these experienced college students, as they are currently 92 percent occupied.”
“However, as the commencement of fall classes drew near, we, our university partners and other universities noted slightly more apprehension among incoming first-year students,” continued Bayless. “This group of students — who are leaving home for the first time to begin their college careers — have exhibited a higher degree of reluctance to relocate to campus while online instruction is prevalent. In response, many universities temporarily relaxed housing requirements and expectations for first-year students, resulting in a fall term occupancy decline over the prior year of approximately 16 percent at our on-campus residence hall properties that primarily serve first-year students. These properties represent only approximately 10 percent of our total same store beds.”
As of mid-2020, ACC owned 166 student housing properties totaling 111,900 beds across the country. The company’s stock closed at $35.59 on Friday, Sept. 11, down from $44.70 last year.