Advise for renting properties in heavy college areas

4 Replies

Hello everyone (or anyone lol) first off if this is the wrong place to post this please feel free to let me know and guide me in the right direction.

I bought my first rental property 3 years ago in my area, which is located directly next to one college and within 15 min of a university. I plan on getting more homes in the area, and or surrounding areas over the new couple years and will more then likely be renting to college kids seeing as I shouldn’t ever be short on tenants.

I’m looking for any general advise someone can give me that may have or is doing the same as myself. I apologize if this is quite vague, I’m still new at this and finally got my spark back to get back into my plan of renting. I currently am house hacking the home I own now, and have been thinking of possibly getting into a multi family home and doing the same for my next house as well. Thank you in advanced!

Welcome to Bigger Pockets @Aaron Caminati !  

I recently got together with a guy in my market that is KILLING IT in college rentals and he shared something lifesaving that I want to pass along.  Most property managers in the area are trying in December to fill the vacancies for the next year.  What he knew from being at the university recently is that by November every single solid tenant had already had their house for the next year locked up .  . . for like a month!

So, he's had a constant stream of low vacancies and high quality tenants by knowing the rhythms of the students.  If you put your vacancy up for lease when the best people are looking then it's simply a marketing game.  If you put it up when they aren't, then it's a suicide mission or a miracle game.

So, if this is an investment path you want to be in, know the demographic you are looking to rent to and market to them . . . only.

Go out there and get it!

I've been doing college rentals in SC for six years now (although only recently starting to get more serious about it).  In SC the students start getting serious about the next years housing after the winter break.  It's important to know where off campus the kids want to be.  As an example in SC the kids live south of the campus (it's also closer to the football stadium) so that might have something to do about it.  So after the break I'll start conversations with my renters on their intentions for the upcoming year.  Below are some tips on how I run my houses:

1) I try to make a personal connection with all my renters.  They understand that this is my house and if they take care of the house I will take care of them (i.e. I am extremely responsive to fixing issues).  I have a great landscaper that keeps the houses looking great.  Way better than many of the owners that live next to my houses.  Also included in the rent is a bi-weekly house cleaner that cleans the bathrooms and common areas.  She is my eyes and ears in the house.  She reports on any damage (none so far) or if the kids are keeping the house clean.  The renters and I love this idea.  My accountant not so much but this helps me sleep knowing when I show up to a house it's not going to be a disaster area.

2) I sign one year individual leases (via DocuSign) to a group of renters and when a house turns over I try to rent to sophomores so I can keep my turnover low.  If one in the group decides they want to leave it's up to the remaining renters to find a replacement or they are out. I also don't raise rents on the renters.  Again it gets back to the idea of building a relationship.  Yes another idea my accountant hates but I like it.  When my houses do turnover over the houses is given a deep cleaning.  These houses are spotless.  I spoke to others that have said they left the house cleaner when they moved it (which isn't saying much).  That will never be said about my houses.

3) I get a parental guarantee from my renters parents whom I also try to build a relationship with.  I try to speak to all of them before they move in and explain what I do and why.  The good news is that most end up having me send the rent request to them since they have their name on the bottom line.  Since I get this parental guarantee I don't ask for a full months rent for a deposit (usually about 75%).  Parents like this but again my accountant hates it (starting to see a trend?).

4) I use Venmo to send out my rent requests.  I've yet to find a renter not on Venmo.  Parents have been a different story but thats not my problem.  As part of my rent request I usually pay the utilities and they reimburse me.  This is not the easiest and there are people on these forums that would blast me for taking on that work but I don't care at this point.  It takes me all about an hour a month to get this done.  I do it as I've heard renters having issues with each other because one person has to pay and they are on the hook which could create tension in the house.  I'm all about removing tension and keeping the kids happy.  Again my accountant hates the idea. 

Hope this helps!

Speak to the students and find out where they find out about rentals. Every market is different. Facebook groups are popular or certain websites are used as well.

Our company has grown so large we get inqiuries from the following:

-Facebook groups

-Our Instagram page

-Our website

-The school advertising site

-A secondary site

-Word of mouth

-Our property management signs

Thank u guys for your quick and helpful responses! I’ll will make good use of this info on my journey and make sure to keep an eye out similar things in my research.

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