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Experts Share Student Housing Struggles

Axiometrics student housing analytics lead Taylor Gunn (below with Axiometrics colleagues Alma Pena and Andre Pavlovic) says four-year public universities with 20,000-plus students haven't seen negative enrollment growth and occupancy looks mighty fine at 95.6% nationally. But that doesn't mean the life of a student housing executive is a cakewalk.


Panelists at our Austin University Development and Student Housing event last week shared what's giving them headaches

Virtus director Kevin White says finding deals is easy—if you're willing to pay twice as much for the land. The days of underwriting $600/bed deals are over, especially in Austin, and Virtus (and everyone else) walks a fine line of underwriting $800/bed deals while trying to remain a good value to students.

Land pursuit is certainly the hardest part of the job, Johnson, Trube & Associates founder Edward Johnson says. And coordinating the timing of deals if you're purchasing adjacent tracts from more than one seller creates additional difficulties.


Scoring a deal brings new challenges with construction, labor and delivery dates

Labor can be flaky, causing developers to need a higher level of GCs and subs to keep on schedule, Aspen Heights VP Ryan Fetgatter says. He's still waiting on the Houston pipeline to empty out and bring labor to neighboring cities, like Austin. 

While he's dealing with the challenge of finding deals, being nimble and paying what the seller will accept, Core Spaces acquisitions director Brian Thompson wonders "How much deeper is the market in the West Campuses of the world?"

Here are SMU dean of residence life and student housing Troy Behrens, panel moderator ARA Newmark Student Housing executive managing director Ryan Lang, Fetgatter, Kevin, Edward, PAGE principal Talmadge Smith and Brian.