Students face fierce hussle to find off-campus housing
As first-year and sophomore Miami University students begin to think about leaving behind the world of bunk beds and community bathrooms in the residence halls, they may start searching for off-campus living in a highly competitive market.
Will Conroy, property manager at Cardinal Group Properties, a real estate company in Oxford, said the off-campus housing market has gotten more competitive among realtors because of a university policy change that came about three or four years ago.
"[The off-campus housing market is] definitely competitive," Conroy said. "It's gotten more competitive since the university has instituted the sophomore living rule, so there's less demand and a lot of product on the market which leads to more competition among the real estate agents and the local property management places to find people to live in their houses."
Level 27 property manager Robert Brinkman said the main way Level 27 attracts students in this competitive market is by emphasizing its amenities, larger size and features, such as individual bathrooms.
Brinkman said price is typically an important factor for students searching for off-campus housing.
"It always depends on the student, obviously, but it's always a big factor," Brinkman said. "We're usually the highest among our two competitors, Hawk's Landing and Oxford Commons...but we don't seem to have trouble beating them out in terms of leasing numbers, so price is definitely important to the majority, but it's not a breaking point."
According to Brinkman, prices in Oxford are on the lower end compared to Level 27's management company, Peak Campus Management's off-campus properties in Cincinnati.
"Our management company has apartments in Cincinnati," Brinkman said. "Their rent is about a hundred dollars more per month than ours."
RE/MAX real estate agent Jason Reynolds said there is competition among students as well.
"It's competitive in the hot locations," Reynolds said. "It's all about the locations, proximity to campus and Uptown."
Property manager of Uptown N High Rentals April Myers said the two-year on-campus residency requirement has pushed back the time when students typically start looking for off-campus housing. She said sophomores usually look for housing options for their junior year in August and September.
"But now it's starting to have freshmen looking for two years in advance, which is ridiculous," Myers said.
Myers said she has seen roommate issues arise because of how early students decide upon off-campus living arrangements. Situations may change from students' first year at Miami to the time they move off campus.
"People transfer to other schools or other people will study abroad and they don't know what semester they're going and they have to find someone to fill their place," Myers said.
It is difficult to find someone who will fit into the group of students who are living together, according to Myers.
Myers agreed with Reynolds, saying the market is competitive among students.
"I would say that the trends that I see are people leaning more towards houses than apartments; more towards nicer, more well-kept houses and also going for locations," Myers said. "Some people like to be closer to campus, some people like to be closer to Uptown."
Senior Sean Crowe started Hutster.com with partner and senior Thomas Gorczynski last year. Hutster.com streamlines and simplifies the off-campus housing search process for students and connects them with Oxford realtors. Crowe said he and Gorczynski conducted a survey and found students generally look at three main attributes when searching for off-campus housing.
"The main three or four things every student looks for at first is what year it's [off-campus housing option] available, the number of residents and location," Crowe said. "I'd say those are the top three things people look for. It's funny, price for a lot of students is almost secondary. They look for those first and then sort through the price after that."
However, according to Crowe, price is not secondary for many other Miami students. Crowe said for him and his housemates, price was an important factor in choosing their house because money was an issue. Crowe also said he believes off-campus housing prices in Oxford are higher than those at similar schools.
"From what I've heard, our market here's pretty inflated just because the demand is here and the market is here and people are willing to pay it," Crowe said.
According to Crowe, one of the reasons students sign so far in advance for off-campus housing for their junior year is because of the behavior of realtors and property managers.
"[The off-campus housing market] is super competitive," Crowe said. "The realtors are always trying to get the students faster than the other one. That's kind of why the market is the way it is. You have to sign a lease a year, a year and a half in advance."
Crowe also said realtors and property managers help to create competition among students.
"When we signed, the landlord showed us the house with another group, so it kind of made us sign faster," Crowe said. "It gave us a sense of urgency."
Sophomore Aly Gialamas said she started considering off-campus housing options for her junior year when she was a first-year, but put the most effort into the search process late September of this school year. She said she decided upon Heritage Commons for her junior year.
According to Gialamas, living with someone she knew she would be comfortable living with was the biggest factor in choosing Heritage Commons.
"But also, it's all-inclusive," Gialamas said. "There's someone who cleans the bathroom, laundry's attached to the building, heating and cooling was included. It was a little easier to figure out. You also have Internet and cable and it's furnished already, so that was a big factor."
Gialamas said price was not a big factor for her when searching for off-campus housing options.
"From what I've heard from a lot of people around campus, it's not a huge issue," Gialamas said.
According to Gialamas, most of the off-campus housing options are expensive.
"When I was looking, there's a common price point," Gialamas said. "Everything's super expensive and if it's not super expensive, it's not somewhere you'd really want to live."
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