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Does Your Developer Have a Track Record?

Does Your Developer Have a Track Record?

Over the past several years, more and more developers who don't specialize in student housing have entered the marketplace, claiming building other projects involving beds is sufficient experience for developing a student housing project. But all beds are not created equal. "Student housing is its own creature, with its own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies,"1 and not having the proper experience can lead to disaster.

One critical component of a student housing project that an inexperienced student housing developer puts in jeopardy is the delivery date. A missed delivery causes a great deal of disruption in the lives of students (especially first-time students who are trying to get adjusted) and their parents and creates extra work for administration needing to deal with this unexpected adjustment. Plus there's the additional potential costs of letting some students out of their leases, paying higher rents for temporary housing and adding the appropriate security measures, scheduling buses to transport students multiple times from temporary housing to the campus for classes and meals and providing storage facilities.

A quick "student housing delay" search on the Internet results in examples of student housing projects that weren't delivered on time, with excuses ranging from schedules being "a little too ambitious" from the start, the need for reinspections and not building buffer time into the schedule.

Multi-Housing News (MHN) warns that the student housing sector is no place for amateurs—it's difficult enough for seasoned pros! If a developer doesn't bring the expertise in student housing, your project runs the risk of failing to meet any of your goals. Therefore, newcomers to student housing should give themselves at least a five-year timeline to learn about this sector.2

Before engaging a developer, be sure to check that they not only have completed at least eight to 10 on-campus projects but that they have all been delivered in time for student move-in day.

UHS' track record

1 "Real Estate Standout: Student Housing," UrbanLand, August 24, 2011.
2"Student Housing Is Not for Amateurs," Multi-Housingnews.com, July 26, 2011.
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