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Conditions in the student housing sector are predicted to look better than they did at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with vacancies forecast to improve slightly over 2020 levels. But asking rents will likely take the heat this fall, with an expected decline from -2.7% for properties by bed to -1.8% for properties by unit, according to a new analysis from Moody’s Analytics REIS. That decline is rent marks the first such decrease in the sector since 2014.

While the COVID-19 numbers are improving nationally, the debate over whether to require student vaccinations is weighing on the sector. Moody’s analyst Ricardo Rosas cites recent US News data that shows roughly 680 college and universities have vaccine mandates thus far, and of the 200 colleges Moody’s tracks, 37% are requiring vaccinations.

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