Student housing providers were apprehensive about leasing in the coronavirus era as the new school year loomed, but have so far avoided the worst, especially with many off-campus properties.

“Leasing has gone really well, we’re actually ahead on a year-over-year basis,” CA Ventures Executive Vice President Sean Zasche said during Bisnow’s Chicago Deep Dish: Student Housing – An Unprecedented Semester & Its Lasting Impact webinar last week.

The company, which has about 22,000 units across the U.S., has also had success collecting the rent for its student housing properties. It collected around 97% to 98% of the rent since the advent of the pandemic in March, Zasche added.

“For the most part, it’s been business as usual, which many people are surprised to hear,” he said.

“We’ve had a similar experience, leasing appears to be strong, especially off-campus,” Greystar Senior Vice President of University Partnerships Jared Everett said. “It’s clear students still want that experience, and want to be around their peers.”

That strong leasing performance was also seen in on-campus housing, Everett added, even though many universities have decided to cancel in-classroom learning in favor of remote learning. Many schools are de-densifying on-campus student housing, sometimes by keeping dorms rooms single, rather than the typical practice of doubling students up. That may be displacing more students into off-campus housing than in normal years.

“Ultimately, all things considered, we’re very pleased with where we’re at.”

It has not, of course, been a normal year with normal procedures. Even though recent move-ins have mostly gone well, Everett said his firm has had to extend move-in periods so students and their families can arrive at intervals and avoid crowding each other. Greystar also put in place systems that allow students to make reservations for when they can move.

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