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[IMGCAP(1)]DALLAS-American Campus Communities Inc. and Campus Apartments Inc. are on opposite sides of the spectrum. American Campus Communities, a public company, is in Austin, TX. CEO Bill Bayless has no trouble leading quarterly analysts’ conference calls while keeping the corporate big picture in front of him. Campus Apartment president and CEO David Adelman, on the other hand, is happy keeping his Philadelphia-based company private, so he can focus on the long term without a quarterly distraction.

But both gentlemen agreed on a great deal while squaring off during RealShare Student Housing’s Fact or Fiction. During the 35-minute presentation, myths and reality about student housing were tossed to the duo, leading to clarification about the sector.

Both agreed, for example, that student housing tends to be recession-proof. The sector, in fact, is less about the economy and more about economics. “It’s supply and demand,” Bayless commented. “What’s enrollment? How many units are available? Those are the factors.”

Adelman and Bayless also agreed that oversupply can lead to distressed assets. Some of that oversupply has been due to inexperienced owners and operators, Adelman pointed out. The inexperience shows in student housing that’s inconvenient to the campus, or that’s competing with a multitude of other student housing.

[IMGCAP(2)]Both also agreed that the student housing fundamentals are still very good. Adelman pointed out that the demographics are excellent, especially with so many high school students slated to graduate this year. Furthermore, “when people can’t get a job, they tend to stay in school longer,” Adelman said.

Finally, both agreed that the successful buyers, and owners, of student housing assets are those who have a solid plan in place with experience in the sector. Those in it for the quick buck won’t survive for long. A strong market doesn’t hurt, either. “The best markets are core markets, with high barriers to entry,” Bayless explained. “Those are what we look for, and where we’re successful.”

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