IRVING, TX-In a recent conversation for a Real Estate Forum article, American Campus Communities‘ president and CEO Bill Bayless says the student housing market continues to be strong from a leasing perspective. Even better, capital is readily available for construction and ownership, thanks to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and life companies, all which are happy to play financing role.
But Bayless, one of the speakers at the upcoming RealShare Student Housing conference in May, says not all student housing is created equal. “We believe that focusing on larger, tier-one flagship properties is a more stable play,” he explains. “We see that reflected in the cap rates.”
Furthermore, Bayless says that while ACC’s portfolio has been stable from a leasing perspective, some softening is creeping into the industry – and some markets could be subject to overbuilding.
“In tracking the markets, we see 34,000 new beds coming online this year,” Bayless said. Out of those beds coming online, 33% of those are located in Austin, TX (University of Texas’ main campus); State College, PA (Penn State University); San Marcos, TX (Texas State University) and Statesboro, GA (Georgia Southern University). Statesboro, especially, is seeing a lot of student housing product coming online – according to Bayless, more than 3,300 beds will come online in 2013. “There are no barriers to entry and plenty of land available there,” he observes, adding that ACC sold much of its property in that market due to the overbuilding potential. Meanwhile, ACC continues to have a strong presence in both Austin and San Marcos. But the key, Bayless says, is being nearby, if not adjacent to, the main campuses.
Bayless goes on to point out that one emerging trend is that of developers entering rural college towns with urban-oriented, high-rise products. “It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out,” Bayless observes, adding that he, himself, is somewhat skeptical about the rightness of that type of product for the market. “I think, in those markets, if you’re a student who can life in a three-story, frame complex near campus, you’re not going to pay a $200 premium to live in a commercial high rise product in that market,” he comments.
RealShare Student Housing will take place May 13-14 at the Four Seasons Resort. For more information about the conference, click here.