Three Things You Might Have Missed at NMHC Student Housing 2021

By: Amelia Woolard

SmartRent's Student Housing team at NMHC Student Housing Conference 2021.SmartRent's Student Housing team at NMHC Student Housing Conference 2021.SmartRent's Student Housing team at NMHC Student Housing Conference 2021.SmartRent's Student Housing team at NMHC Student Housing Conference 2021.

This month, SmartRent’s student housing team made the trip to sunny Huntington Beach, California to attend this year’s NMHC Student Housing Conference. Just steps from the city’s famed coastline, student housing professionals from across the country gathered to hear updates regarding the state of the industry as we head into 2022.

When we weren’t shaking hands at networking events, we took in several interesting panel discussions happening on-stage. Discover what you may have missed at this year’s event with this recap of our key takeaways.

Did you miss us in California? There’s still time to schedule a demo and learn more about our industry-leading smart home automation platform.

#1: Student housing is incredibly resilient

We don’t need to remind anyone that 2020 and 2021 were tough years for countless industries. Fortunately, student housing emerged victorious this year. In fact, during the event’s Opening Executive Insights, American Campus Communities CEO Bill Bayless said that “...the fundamentals of student housing are stronger coming out of COVID than they were going in.”

Echoing that sentiment, Gary Holloway, President of GMH Communities, stated that “we as an industry bounced back incredibly well” following the pandemic. Greystar’s Managing Director of Investments, Michael Erickson, even reported that student housing outperformed all of the company’s other housing sectors.

As far as investor interest goes, Avi Lewittes, Chief Investment Officer of The Scion Group, believes that student housing is enjoying a historic moment. He stated that, while the pandemic has cost student housing roughly 80 billion dollars in lost revenue, huge enrollment growth promises a brighter future. As a result, investment opportunities abound.

Take a look at this chart indicating a clear increase in student housing sales volume during the second quarter of 2021:

#2: Affordability is a major concern for student housing operators

Everyone wants to cut costs where they can, and this is no different for student housing operators as they slide into 2022. Affordability of student housing is a major concern for providers, after the pandemic resulted in construction delays and a shortage of materials, and a resulting spike in prices.

College students are feeling the squeeze, too. A recent report by reveals that 26 percent of students surveyed are paying rent premiums that are higher in 2021 than they were a year ago.

If you ask Harry Le Grande, Vice Chancellor Emeritus Student Affairs, University of California, Berkeley, affordability in 2022 will require creativity. There will be no “cookie-cutter” approach when it comes to lowering costs and combating student homelessness, which affected 14% of 2- and 4-year college students in 2020, according to The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.

Luckily, smart home technology can drive down costs and boost efficiency for student housing operators. Smart thermostats slim energy bills and reduce consumption during seasons of low vacancy, thanks to operators’ ability to configure baseline settings when residents are away from home.

Leak detection devices greatly reduce the risk of catastrophic leak damage by alerting managers to leaks the moment they occur. These benefits and others are the “secret sauce” behind SmartRent’s ability to reduce operating expenses by 20-30% and leasing costs by 20-50%.

#3: Physical tours are a thing of the past

Would you be surprised to learn that 70% of fall leases signed by students at PeakMade properties did not tour their new home in person?

That’s what Jennifer Hill, Chief People Officer and General Counsel at PeakMade Real Estate, revealed about her network of student housing communities during the panel, “Community Building, Marketing and Leasing: It’s More than Just Leasing a Unit.”

Preiss Companies’ COO Adam Byrley agreed, stating that only 25 to 30% of their prospective residents are physically touring their next home.

Self-guided tours appeal to students who either cannot or do not wish to physically visit communities when deciding where to live. Whether these students call different cities or states home, or would rather dedicate an afternoon to shopping for their next home instead of taking a physical tour of it, experts present at NMHC Student Housing predict self-guided tours will soon become an expected part of the touring process.

Smart Home Tech Leads the Way

As American Campus Communities CEO Bill Bayless stated during the Opening Executive Insights, the “[pandemic] created a great deal of innovation in student housing.” What better way to capitalize on such innovations than by implementing smart home technologies in your student housing community?

SmartRent offers a host of services that offer incredible value to student housing operators, both financially and in terms of resident satisfaction. Schedule a personalized demo to learn how SmartRent’s smart home automation makes sense for your portfolio.