Athens Ridge

ATLANTA—I won’t make you wait until the end of this article to answer the headline. The peak for student housing leasing can begin as early as April and continue into September or November, according to a new study from Apartment Guide.

Of course, that challenges the traditional convention of June to August as primary student housing leasing months in the industry. Could it be true? It is if you can believe a study of prospect leads generated in 2013 for 208 student housing communities nationwide.

Student housing regional managers and marketing directors have anecdotally sensed that peak leasing seasons might be different from market to market, but until now it’s been difficult to pinpoint on a regional, month-to-month basis when peak leasing activity occurs,” says Hannah Crosby, a strategic sales account executive at Apartment Guide. “With this more detailed information, student housing community managers and marketing and leasing staffs can now make better decisions regarding marketing, advertising and prospect engagement.”

Crosby presents her findings this week in the session The Digitally Savvy College Student: Market Research to Help Operators Spend Advertising Dollars Wisely panel presentation. You can meet her during the National Apartment Association’s Student Housing Conference in Las Vegas.

Crosby’s data analysis offers visibility into lead metrics by print, phone, Internet, e-mail, mobile, and mobile e-mail lead source channels and reveals what she calls “surprising variances” in peak lead/leasing seasons by market. For example, in Auburn, AL, student housing leads start to peak in April and are declining by August. By contrast, in Virginia Beach the student housing market holds steady to the traditional peak July/August lease-up season. Bloomington, IN bucks the bell curve trend with two peak leasing seasons: one from March to May and another between September and November.

No matter what market your student housing assets are in, here’s a finding to which you need to pay close attention: The proportion of leads from mobile devices continues to grow unabated. In fact, some student housing markets close to seeing mobile devices generate more than half of all prospect leads generated from mobile devices.

About this finding, Arlene Mayfield, senior vice president of RentPath and president of Apartment Rentals and Homes Divisions, is not surprised. She has been watching the massive impact of mobile on leasing in the student housing community.

“Currently, more than 40% of all Apartment Guide leads are generated through our mobile platforms, and mobile is projected to be the single largest source of Internet usage in 2014,” says Mayfield. “As a result, we’re resolved in our strategic and advanced efforts to meet this increased exposure potential for our clients in student housing and in the broader multifamily apartment markets by improving overall mobile functionality and value to our users to maximize results on the increased mobile lead traffic.”