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The Demand Driver No One's Talking About

It's true that more kids than ever are going to college, but there's one big change no one's talking about: the growing number of women loading up their sub-compact cars and heading off to college. (Does that mean fewer cases of beer and more makeup is loading down the hatchback?)


Kensington Realty Advisors' Jim Lee (snapped at a recent Counselors of Real Estate event) tells us the number of women first surpassed male enrollment in '78. Jim tells us a higher percentage of the giant generations Y and Z are going to college. (At least the ones who haven't figured out how to make money by complaining on YouTube.) So what does the gender impact mean for student housing? Parents worry about security off-campus, driving demand for quality properties.


Source: National Center for Education Statistics

The parents, who lived in nice dorms, don't want their kids living in the "lean-tos" that make up the worst of today's stock. As many as 85% of students live off-campus, Jim says, much of that stock owned by one-off owners who lease it up and disappear. Take it from Jim, whose son--a senior at the University of Wisconsin--lives in an apartment Jim would never allow for his daughter, a sophomore at the University of Illiniois. (Jim's a University of Minnesota alum and has a high school son likely bound for another Big 10 school, making for pleasant family dinners.)


Jim tells us Kensington just bought a 130-unit, 402-bed property near Florida State University that has at least 80% female residents. It was 100% leased before it delivered, which he says proves demand even in Tallahassee, which The Wall Street Journal reported two months ago as a boom town for student housing development.