Realtor.com asked me to contribute to a couple of articles they were writing about investing in neighborhoods with big college crowds. They were looking for Realtors in a few different cities to write about their experience dealing with investors of college apartments. Below are a few of the questions they asked along with my responses.
1) Have you had a client who is an investor buy in your market because of the potential renters from the university?
Absolutely. Anyone who knows Boston knows this is a huge college town. From Harvard and Northeastern to BC and BU…we have some of the best, if not the best schools in the country. With this many colleges, we will always have a high demand for apartment rentals and many investors understand this. They know that you can charge a premium for apartments in many centrally located areas of Boston. Students aren’t going to stop coming to school here, so there will always be a great demand for housing.
2) Have you sold a home for a client to an investor who intended to rent the property to students?
Yes. The buyer didn’t specifically say that he intended to, but there was no need. We have a few areas of the city that are notorious for college rentals. There are so many college students in these particular areas that he wouldn’t have a choice but to rent to them.
3) Have you had any clients who are parents that brought a property for their college student to live in with roommates?
Yes. I’ve had parents of students get frustrated with the huge price tag on some of the rentals here and found that it made more sense to buy a condo for their children. Most recently, I worked with a Boston University student and her parents who purchased a 2-bedroom condo in South Boston. She was starting her freshman year and had a brother two years behind her in school. He knew he would be applying to several schools in Boston when he finished high school. Their parents figured rather than paying for 8 total years of campus residence or dealing with increasing rents, they would buy and the kids could share it while they were in school. The older sister is currently living with a couple of roommates until her brother makes his way to Boston. The rent they are receiving from the roommates off-set a good portion of the mortgage expense. I think this was an excellent move for their particular situation.
4) Any other thoughts on your market as a place for investors to buy because of the universities there?
Boston is a great city and our colleges aren’t going anywhere. If you’re looking for a great buy and hold investment, purchasing a multi-family home here is a great choice. You don’t necessarily need to be next door to one of the schools. We have a terrific public transportation system and you can be almost anywhere within 30 minutes. I would suggest buyers have a long-term timeline to justify the premium they are going to pay for these buildings. Potential buyers also need to have their financing lined up and be ready to make a move. These properties don’t become available on a regular basis, so to catch a deal you have to do your homework and be ready to make a move when the opportunity presents itself. Boston also has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country and our schools have a lot to do with that.