What students want in terms of student housing communities has changed a lot in the past few years and it continues to diversify. Apart from being close to their university, students nowadays enjoy having tech amenities, modern gathering spaces and as much rent flexibility as possible.
Multi-Housing News reached out to Mitash Kripalani, vice president of Colliers International South Florida, for more details on Miami’s hottest submarkets for student housing. He also revealed some particularities of the company’s latest project, Orduna Court, a 25,000-square-foot building close to University of Miami.
Which are the hottest Miami submarkets for student housing investment?
Kripalani: The Miami metropolitan area is home to 59 colleges, universities and technical/vocational schools and is home to Florida’s largest public university—Florida International University. Its educational diversity, from Barry University to University of Miami, make it attractive for student housing investment. Any area in Miami near a college or university is ideal for investors, but the hottest submarkets include Coral Gables—which is home to University of Miami—Sweetwater—which is home to Florida International University—and South Miami.
Please name a few major trends in student housing amenities in the metro.
Kripalani: Student housing has evolved over the last decade to include an array of amenities in order to attract students. In addition to a good location with close proximity campus, some major trends in student housing amenities include proximity to public transportation, smart technology, modern, as well as eco-friendly features. Swimming pools are also an attractive amenity, especially in Miami where we enjoy year-round sunny and warm weather. Students also prefer gyms, gathering areas and the flexibility to rent furnished and unfurnished units as well as the flexibility to rent by the bed.
Orduna Court at 800 S. Dixie Highway is a perfect example of these trends. It provides a modern and safe living community within walking distance to University of Miami. From an investor standpoint, it’s the perfect property, presenting a unique opportunity to capitalize on above-market rental income by implementing a furnished, co-living rent-by-the-bed business plan. It delivers the flexibility students are typically looking for by offering short- and long-term rentals while driving income value for the owner.
How have students’ preferences evolved in the past few years and what do you expect going forward?
Kripalani: Students are increasingly seeking and placing value on elements such as community, walkability, safety, flexibility and amenities. Developers will have to adjust course to meet those needs of renters who are looking for more than just an apartment. Today, renters want a living experience that is built for their lifestyle and enhances it. Orduna Court was designed to meet the needs of today’s students. The owner, Location Ventures, recently renovated and modernized the 25,000-square-foot building to enhance the co-living experience. The property now includes smart room layouts, smart home technology in all of the units and a resort-style pool.
What are the main challenges in Miami’s student housing market?
Kripalani: There’s limited supply to choose from and a lack of newer product with access to public transportation. We are starting to see Millennials ditch car ownership for alternate methods of transportation such as public transit, biking, ride-sharing etc., so one challenge is finding properties with access to public transportation. Another challenge is a lack of newer product in areas with ease of access to work and play destinations, which we’re finding are becoming increasingly important.
What can you tell us about the process of financing student housing acquisitions?
Kripalani: We have a number of lenders who say they like student housing deals due to the strong rental demand.
What are your predictions for the student housing sector going forward?
Kripalani: Investors remain attracted to student housing because enrollment in universities and colleges is expanding and the low vacancy and strong rental growth are all very desirable. Student housing also tends to be recession-proof because when there are less job opportunities, people often go back to school to learn new skills.
Images courtesy of Colliers International