Student Housing Remains an Attractive Real Estate Strategy

Topics: Student Housing

by Keith Lampi

Despite a slowdown in sales activity and deal flow due to the rising interest rate environment, it appears that student housing is positioned to remain an attractive opportunity for real estate investors through 2030.

Insights from industry software provider Yardi highlight how the student housing sector not only rebounded well from the 2020 pandemic, but market fundamentals indicate the asset class is well-positioned for the future. In its year-end Student Housing Review and 2023 Outlook, Yardi notes:

  • The Fall 2022 preleasing period ended in September at a record 96.6%, 2.3% higher than 2021.
  • The average rent per bedroom at Yardi 200 universities* for the Fall 2022 school year was $789 as of September, a record high and 4.1% over the same time in 2021.
  • The great disparity between multifamily and student housing rents indicates possible room to grow with student housing rents, particularly in urban markets with a prominent shadow market.
  • Transaction volume has potential to surpass record 2021 levels as the industry continues to garner investor interest.
  • Yardi Matrix forecasts predict the student housing industry to stabilize over the next few years, with strong but steady rent and occupancy, enrollment, and supply growth.

And while sales activity and deal flow slowed at the end of 2022 due to the rising interest rate environment, demand for student housing and rent growth is expected to remain robust, especially at leading universities where enrollment is growing. 

According to, as of November 2022, roughly 25% of student housing beds had already pre-leased for the 2023-24 school year. That is about five percentage points higher than the previous record for November pre-leasing. Additionally, effective rents for preleases are averaging more than 8 percent higher than in 2021.

“Fall 2023 is off to a blistering start. We’re hearing rumblings of huge demand levels from students electing to renew and lock in leases early for next year.” - Carl Whitaker, director of research and analysis for RealPage Inc.


Could a recession knock the student housing market off its track? Potentially. However, according to a recent Multi-Housing News article, the sector can sometimes benefit during challenging times. Even amid the fear of a looming recession student housing’s outlook remains positive. In fact, in poor economic periods, enrollment tends to grow. People return to college for degrees, helping position them for new jobs when the downturn ends. 

Many experts predict prominent private schools with low acceptance rates and big public universities in power five conferences to potentially outperform similar assets in smaller markets. 


*Yardi Matrix student housing data set includes over 2,000 universities and colleges nationwide, including the top 200 investment grade universities across all major collegiate conferences. Known as the “Yardi 200,” it includes all Power 5 conferences as well as Carnegie R1 and R2 universities.