North Carolina: Barriers to Entry Enhance Sales Opps
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With a student population of 18,000 and growing, the Mountaineer Village student housing project in the little town of Boone, NC, has a leg up on other similar projects: high barriers to entry, says ARA national student housing co-director Chris Epp. Because of topography challenges and a new restrictive city ordinance (regarding groundwater allocations), the construction of new student housing at Appalachian State University (an hour from Greensboro) is very difficult, Chris says. Supply and demand is absolutely everything in student housing, Chris says. When you turn off the supply valve and open up the demand value that's good for owners. That's Chris with wife Mairin and daughterÂ Maible, sporting the boots.
There's an upside to the new city ordinance, he tells us, because Mountaineer Village has zoning approval and water capacity for an additional 72 beds and an 8,000 SF multisport complex for future development. They're grandfathered in before the town's ordinance puts constraints on future student housing. Chris tells us this 192-unit (576 bed) project hit the market because its owners were conventional multifamily guys who didn't like the cyclical nature of the lease up and wanted to sell the 98% occupied property to an experienced student housing operator, Chris says. And now is a good time to buy since interest rates are low and student housing fundamentals have never been stronger, he adds. (Though student fundamentals are low because everyone has checked out for Christmas break.)