September 15, 2020
Austin-based student housing REIT American Campus Communities (ACC) said its same-store owned portfolio was 90.3% leased for the 2020-2021 academic year. That represents a 710-basis-point drop from the year-ago period, but ACC said occupancies were stronger in properties that house primarily second-year and above students.
At on-campus properties with a primarily first-year student population, occupancy is down about 16% year-over-year, said CEO Bill Bayless. “This group of students, who are leaving home for the first time to begin their college careers, have exhibited a higher degree of reluctance to relocate to campus while online instruction is prevalent,” he said.
Bayless said that in response to COVID-related concerns and the resulting changes in curriculum delivery, many universities have temporarily relaxed housing requirements and expectations for first-year students. Relaxing the policies has meant most of these first-year students still enrolling, “which should mitigate material longer-term enrollment impacts beyond the current COVID-19 crisis.”
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