Student Housing: Lessons from Fall Turn & Move In
As the weeks pass by and August moves on, student living communities across the United States are going to start filling up. Move-in season is upon us.
With rooms prepped, painted, and furnished, it’s time for you to start welcoming students to your apartments. But before you do, let’s take a second to reflect on the journey to today and think about what’s on the horizon. Because once August ends, the chessboard gets reset and the game starts again.
After all, the countdown to Fall 2023 starts now—and if next year is anything like this one, you’re going to want to get moving early. Last month, we explored the ongoing trends in the student living world. Today, we’re looking at some of the takeaways and share lessons from turn and move-in.
Ongoing Labor Challenges Continue Persist
Both internally and externally, good help is hard to find. Internally, this has been a trend that existed long before the pandemic.
As discussed in NAAHQ, labor has moved from finding enough people to finding the people worth the money. In 2019, unemployment was at historic lows. In 2021, the ‘Great Resignation’ Event drove turnover. Now, with inflation on the rise, properties need to do more with the people they have.
Attracting and retaining the best of the best will require a creative blend of culture, compensation, and branding.
Externally, builders, construction companies, and owners have spent the past few turns dealing with their own challenges. It’s getting harder to find a subcontractor—and the time they give to lock in a price is shorter than ever.
Touchless, Multi-Day Move-Ins: Here to Stay?
2020 gave us a pandemic. 2021 gave us a look at the new normal. 2022 looks like a blend of 2019 and 2021. One thing that looks to have stuck around since last year? A touchless and multi-day move-in.
It feels like the days of long lines, welcoming committees, and crowds has gone. Staffing shortages and safety precautions still reign supreme, pushing student housing managers to change the way they introduce students to their new digs.
In fact, after learning how efficient and low stress things like QR code-based check-ins have been, it appears that the extended move-in is here to stay. In an interview on NAAHQ, Lindsay Brown, VP of Leasing for Campus Advantage, highlighted some of the things that are here to stay:
“There are many things that we have decided to continue to practice that were instituted during the height of the pandemic, such as contactless or drive-through move-ins, heightened cleaning protocols and virtual resident events. […] The feedback from our demographic, as well as employees, was that they prefer an expedited, fast and easy move-in with all the fun things happening after they have settled in.”
A Bigger, Stronger Move-In
After a few years in the grips of the pandemic, students were seeking a return to the traditional college experience. And in this—leasing is up while community college attendance is down.
As predicted in our article last month, this year was going to be big. But the NAAHQ article shows just how big it is. Data from Atlanta-based College House showed that in June, properties surveyed reported a 90.54% occupancy rate, which is a 5% year-over-year increase. Better still, the national pre-lease numbers were at 80.77%, an increase of nearly 9% year-over-year.
Events Are Back
Last year, move-in events started to come back. After fears of COVID limited things like welcome events or weekly mixers, 2021 saw a return to normalcy. This year, public spaces are going to be filled, and caps will be lifted.
And it won’t simply be social. Wellness has continued to become more popular, and students are looking for ways to improve physical and mental health. Events like yoga, classes, or the like may become more important as the year progresses—especially in the lead-up to leasing for 2023.
That said, communities are still looking to make the most of their outdoor spaces. Rooftops, ground-level add-ons, and the like continued to become more popular in the recent years.
From Furnishing to Finishing, Fall Turn Remains Challenging
Both internally and externally, getting things ready for students and completing the move-in process remains challenging. Mentioned earlier, labor shortages may have changed the move-in process for the better.
But the work properties needed to do in advance might have been harder than ever. Whether building or refurbishing, inflation and supply chain issues made it hard to acquire goods. Subcontractors were hard to come by. Prices were extremely volatile. And shipping containers may still be waiting on ships.
This has caused new challenges and exacerbated old challenges. Vendors are recommending early orders, construction companies are trying to work early, and student housing operators have started to look at new partners on shore.
The Capacity to Build. The Expertise to Match. That’s How We Do.
When supply issues persist—it pays to diversify. This includes the companies you trust to build and deliver your furniture. That’s where we come in. We’re Morgan Li, and we’ve spent decades transforming spaces. You might not know who we are just yet, but we’ve been in the furniture business for years and have already made waves in the student living world with our work at HUB Champaign and HUB Los Angeles Coliseum.
With half a million square feet to build domestically and a few million more in Asia, we’re ready to take on your biggest projects. And with some of the best distribution minds (and partners) in the business, we’re ready to deliver.
So whether you need beds, tables, furniture, or anything else, we’ll have you ready for Fall Turn 2023. And stay tuned for our ad in Student Housing Business in the coming issue.