Forget The Students: What Do Parents Want In Student Housing? 

Monday, September 12, 2016

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Originally Appeared On ResMan

Travel to any college or university website and you're bound to find a section specifically for parents. There is an abundance of information available for parents because they are often the investors and decision makers when it comes to their children's post-secondary education.

Parental influence often extends beyond the financial aspect of their children’s studies; it continues into helping them choose their accommodation.

A recent study involving over 3,600 parents resulted in 56% of the respondents reporting that their children paid $0 towards their student housing expenses (J Turner Research, Survey Says! Apartment Features Amenities And Programs That Sell To Student And Parents, 2014).

Student housing communities have identified that they need to not only cater to the interests of their tenants, the students, but also the parents. Traditionally, the parent's role was that of a co-signer or guarantor; an important role, but not as critical as the prospective tenant. For this reason, communities often catered to what the students wanted, not necessarily what the parents wanted.

Countless articles have discussed what students want, but what do the parents want in student housing? Here are some suggestions from statistics found in the J Turner Research survey.

1. Security trumps everything!

It should come as no surprise that safety takes the top spot for parents, ranking ahead of rental rates, location, and apartment features. Roughly 34% of parents reported security as the most important factor, when selecting an apartment for their children. Students, on the other hand, are much less concerned with security, as only 7% reported security as being the most important factor.

2. Friends matter more to parents than students.

This one is a little unexpected, but when asked about the most important community amenity (if friends can be classified as an amenity?), 31% of parents indicated having their children's friends live in the community was the most important community amenity. In comparison, only 19% of students reported this as the most important community amenity.


3. Privacy is paramount.

When asked what the most important apartment feature was, 62% of parents indicated that a private bedroom/bathroom was the most important feature. No other feature even came close! The second place went to in-unit laundry, but only amassed 15% of responses.

4. It's not just ‘location, location, location’.

The location is obviously a critical feature to both parents and students, but when it came to the most important security feature, location tied with controlled access entries, with 26% of responses for each.

5. Skip the property upgrades.

We previously discussed why luxury amenities are not a top priority for students. This survey showed that they aren't necessarily a key priority for parents either. When asked what service or utility upgrade parents would be willing to pay more for, 42% responded with none (no upgrades). The one service they did see some value in was a shuttle bus to the campus, with 22% of respondents indicating this was the top upgrade.

6. Extraordinary maintenance service is crucial.  

Parents have some pretty extraordinary expectations, when it comes to promptly handling maintenance requests. 83% of parents believe that if something breaks in a student's apartment, it should be fixed in under 24 hours. Furthermore, 44% expect repairs to be done in 12 hours or less, and 28% expect repairs to be done in 6 hours or less. Those are some pretty stern expectations for the maintenance team!

7. Video and virtual tours aren't all that important.

Over the last few years, video and virtual tours have emerged as the must-have feature for apartment community’s websites. However, when it comes to the student housing industry, they don't rank particularly high on the importance scale. When asked what information was most important on a community's website, virtual tours only netted 8% and 2% for video tours. Rental rates (48%), photos (20%), testimonials (8%) and floor plans (8%) ranked ahead of online tours.

In conclusion, a parent's role in student housing is key and should be considered by property owners and managers. This survey found that only 13% of students pay for 100% of their student housing costs (as reported by the parents). Therefore, this important demographic should not be overlooked!

SEE ALSO: 3 Student Housing Amenities That Promise ROI


The Team