Creating unique spaces for unique people
We know that maybe 10 years ago the idea of creating a unique space for students was a fairly foreign concept. Cheap, clean, cookie-cutter models for student accommodation were the norm.
Do that today and you may be in more than a bit of trouble.
Millennials like us have grown up in an Airbnb, sharing economy, fast paced world where we crave unique spaces and places. This coupled with the sudden supply of student accommodation in student towns and cities by large scale developers has made the market more competitive for the small scale spare-room-letters and rental-retirees.
We recently spoke at the South African Property Investors Network to a large group of property investors and developers in Cape Town under the topic “Student Accommodation: What do students actually want”. Our message (Read: cry!) was simple - build with a student in mind. This doesn’t mean that you are building for Mary Jones - but that you are building spaces that are designed around the life of a student - your student.
The questions that you need to ask yourself are:
Does your student need a car in your location?
What facilities do comparative properties offer and what can you do to offer more?
Are you creating a sense of ‘belonging’ in your furnishing and design?
Is your property different to everything else that is on the market?
Are you pricing your property correctly?
We’ve been blown away by the creativity that some landlords have in (cheaply) designing spaces that exude warmth through soft furnishings, bunting and wooden furniture that create a unique sense of calm and serenity that many students crave (especially in big cities). Others have developed buildings with tiny but functional bedrooms and rather focused on creating fantastic communal areas with TV’s, foosball, table tennis and board game stations. These may seem like polar opposites and they are, but they both appeal to different types of students. Your introvert may crave a refuge from the big city after a long day on campus and your extrovert may thrive with communal spaces.
We also stress the importance of thinking about the facilities that you offer to students. We’ll say it louder for the people at the back: WIFI & FURNITURE ARE KEY. We find that places that are fully furnished and provide wifi receive over 50% more responses than other listings.
If you are far from campus and/or university transportation routes then make sure you have off-street parking. If you are close to campus, maybe convert the garage into another student room because students probably won’t have cars.
The message is clear; design unique spaces for unique people. Think about WHO you are building for before investing in student accommodation. If you get the basics right and you design with a sense of belonging in mind then you will find a tenant in minutes. Ignore this plea and it may be difficult to fill cookie-cutter rooms that lack basic facilities.