Pennsylvania Student Housing Portfolio Changes Hands

Rittenhouse Realty Advisors arranged the sale of the 44 properties for $21.3 million to a purchaser new to the student housing market.
Student Housing Portfolio. Image courtesy of Rittenhouse Realty Advisors

Planned major expansions of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. were among factors leading to the sale of a large student housing portfolio serving the university’s students.

Rittenhouse Realty Advisors (RRA) sold the portfolio for $21.3 million to a purchaser new to the student housing market. The portfolio features 44 student housing properties that collectively comprise 219 bedrooms. The properties are near one another, helping make management easier and more convenient. They feature modern, updated finishes and are legally zoned and approved by the city of Bethlehem.

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It was 44 different buildings, so it was not easy to finance,” Ken Wellar, RRA managing partner, told Multi-Housing News. “Also, the property was on the market a year with a national firm, so a lot of people saw the deal in the past. We were able to work with our New York network and bring a strong family office to the table.”

Growing enrollment

Significant expansions of Lehigh University are planned over the next decade. The university anticipates increases in enrollment, which this year stands at 5,047 undergraduate and 1,942 graduate students. Also on the drawing boards is an innovative new College of Health that will focus on population health and health data analytics, with the objective of advancing proactive societal health measures.

The Lehigh Valley is projected to grow by more than 165,000 residents over the decades from 2010 to 2014. That represents a 25.6 percent growth rate over the 30-year period. Lehigh County alone is forecast to grow by almost 91,000 residents—an average of 8.7 percent per decade—and the city of Bethlehem by more than 10,000 residents over the 30-year span. Written off years ago as a declining rust belt region, the Lehigh Valley is enjoying a years-long economic renaissance driven by its health care, finance, insurance, real estate and manufacturing sectors.

The expansion has made the Lehigh Valley the 64th biggest economy in the U.S. and the 88th largest in the world. The steady economic growth is luring out-of-town real estate investors, RRA reports.