Trying to Rent Out Property in College Town During COVID

7 Replies

Hello friends, have a rental listing strategy question for you all. I’m currently under contract to purchase my second rental in a major university college town that has basically gone completely virtual for fall semester. This will be my first unit that will likely rent to college kids. Knowing the rental market is likely soft until at earliest spring semester but most likely next summer, what should be my listing strategy when I hopefully close in mid-Oct? Should I list at full price based on provided rent roll at standard 12-month term ask or should I try to get really aggressive out of the gate to get someone in for 6-8 months at say a 25% discount of normal rent just to generate some income until summer when things hopefully get back to normal? Even at discounted rent, I would still have positive cash flow. Any and all advice would be appreciated.

@Bonnie Rhodes Thanks for the reply. I’m buying in Fayetteville, AR, and the property is about 1-2 miles from the University of Arkansas campus. Based on what I understand (from a couple students and an athletic coach), the vast majority of classes have transitioned to online for at least the fall semester. Based on a basic Zillow search, there appears to be a surplus of rental options at the moment but I honestly don’t know if they’re discounted.

Nathan,

What type of rental are you looking at? That "surplus" of rental options" you mention tends to vary greatly, depending on type, size, location, amenities, and more. My own rentals are single-family pet-friendly homes with all appliances in established Fayetteville neighborhoods. At the moment, there are only two other rentals available in all those neighborhoods combined, and the rents of those available rentals are definitely not discounted. I'll note that rentals in these neighborhoods rarely stay on the market for long, even during Covid.

I don't discount rents and always have a good pool of qualified applicants who are not students. 

If you're tracking local rentals via Zillow and using Rentometer to analyze rentals similar to your own, you should get a good idea of what's moving and what's not. You can also track rental rate history via Zillow. 

Are you specifically looking for students as tenants? If so, you might want to check other properties that are the same as/similar to yours.

Good luck!

If you can take 25% off the rent and still pay debt, taxes, termites, insurance, vacancy, capital expense and repairs then that is a great deal!!! Congrats!!!  I would take Susan H. advice. I am in a small town and houses are being rented as fast as they come up. I would think northwest Arkansas area is growing and folks moving in from bigger cities to get away from the cooties!! We are seeing a little of that here.

Good luck   

Nathan, 

I currently am trying to get a duplex of mine rented in Fayetteville. We are getting plenty of applications. We have noticed that, even though classes are virtual, students don't want to go back home, and their parents are still ok helping them pay for the rental. Now, I would be ok discounting in order to get it vacant or renew the lease in May or June instead of fall or winter. I would list at retail and if you don't get applicants then drop in 2 weeks. That is what our plan is. We are also seeing a lot of applications from people getting out of California. direct message me your address and I can give you the retail rent, but for students its typically 450-700 a bedroom. Price varies on condition and amenities.