Explosive Student Housing Market Gets Its First Marketplace
CHICAGO — CollegeAnnex, a unique, Chicago-based startup comprised of landlords, realtors and recent Miami University graduates, recently launched their new website which flips the college housing process on its head.
The college housing market has been booming as of late. Both public REITs and private developers are delivering 500,000 beds annually, according to CoStar Group. However, due to high enrollment rates, supply is still falling short of student demand. This growing, unique market requires new modern tools, but listing site standards like Rent.com and Apartments.com have been unable to make an impact in filling all the new beds. Students still search for properties by walking around campus and flipping through brochures. The student housing market remains painfully off-line.
Phil Shea, CEO of new player, CollegeAnnex, thinks he knows why. Phil explains, “Student housing doesn’t operate like general residential housing. At most campuses, occupancy rates reach above 90 percent. Plus, you’re dealing with landlords that have been doing it their way, by paper, in person, without leveraging the power of the Internet for many years. Telling them to pay to post their properties on the web just doesn’t work.”
The CollegeAnnex team — comprised of landlords, realtors and recent students — has created the perfect solution: a website on which it’s free to list and browse properties with additional premium features for property owners. Phil adds, “A listing site isn’t enough. Landlords, students, parents — they all want more than that. Some students these days haven’t even written a check before. College Annex moves the entire rental process online. Students or parents can sign their lease and pay their rent. Landlords can distribute payments to multiple bank accounts, track all of their finances, and easily access a database with all relevant information.”
“I’ve been in the student housing business for 40 years now and never felt a need to take my business online until now,” says Mike Day, Oxford, OH, student housing manager. “With the Internet as prevalent as it is, students are increasingly asking to look at my listings and pay their rent online. College Annex is the means by which I keep up with this changing market.”
After successfully piloting their service at several Midwest universities (with landlords like Mike) the team quickly raised funding and began working on Version 2.0 of their software. They added a number of new features and made major updates to the look and feel of the site. Annex Pro, their newly titled management software launched on April 6. And with it, finally it seems, disruption is coming to the student housing market.