Three Student Housing Predictions
Go big, go small, or go home. Students like a life of extremes (think library all-nighter or toga party) and so will the student housing market in 2014. CA Student Living principal JJ Smith tells us what you'll see:
1) Micro opps in macro markets
There's been talk of overbuilding, but CA Student Living still sees promise with Main and Main locations at large state schools. One way to mitigate lease-up risk in the more oversupplied markets is downsizing communities, with an ideal size now between 300 and 400 beds. And being conscious of students' budgets helps, especially given increases in interest rates on student loans, he adds.
2) Smaller units, larger amenity spaces
Well-located projects can have smaller units than something several miles out from campus, JJ tells us. While most developers have a one-to-one bed/bath ratio, properties four to six blocks from the main quad have gone down significantly, with some incorporating two baths for every four beds. In Seattle, CA is even testing 325 SF micro-units, with adaptable furniture like Murphy beds (above). While it all starts with location, developers then focus on high-end design and finishes, "making a dollar look like two." (Optical illusions aren't just for street performers anymore.)
3) Competition and rising prices
Headwinds that will affect project costs and investment sales: REITs' performance, rising interest rates and cap rates, and rebounding construction costs, JJ says. With new players entering the market, CA is also seeing more competition on site acquisitions, driving up the firm's basis at infill sites and pushing them to react more quickly. CA has 23 projects on 16 campuses (5,000 beds) slated to deliver by 2015: nine are under construction (398-bed local project Infinite, at 28 E Jackson Blvd, pictured) and will deliver this August, and 14 are in the approval/entitlement phase for delivery the following year.