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DALLAS-Like many speakers at the second annual RealShare Student Housing conference, keynote speaker Mitchell Kiffe said he likes where student housing is going. And like the other speakers, Kiffe, who is Freddie Mac’s vice president of sales and production–multifamily acknowledged there might be some pain in the overall multifamily sector during the next 18 to 24 months. “Multifamily is in for a tough ride,” he said. “But long term, Freddie Mac is bullish about it.”

But within multifamily, the student housing sector has everything going for it, he continued. The demographics are solid, as more students graduating from high school are attending college. Even better is that more foreign students are coming to the United States for their education, he added.

Though the student housing sector is strong, Kiffe suggested it could be stronger in three ways. First, there is a need for standardization of language. “What does ‘purpose-built’ mean?” he asked. “We have a definition (at Freddie Mac), but if you were to go to everyone in this room and ask, they’d have a different definition.”

Second, he said, those in the sector need more market data to determine the characteristics of the student markets they’re trying to target. And finally, there needs to be representation, an entity that can provide a unified voice, such as that provided by the National Multi-Housing Council.

Kiffe said the student housing sector could move in this direction by looking at the senior housing sector. Senior housing, he pointed out, went through the same growing pains some years ago that student housing is facing today. “What senior housing has gone through can be instructive for this industry,” Kiffe commented.

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