Want to know what the most effective student housing marketing strategies are? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.
I’ll share my top strategies I’ve used to build a multiple six-figure real estate investment portfolio.
Want to learn more? Read on!
Here, you’ll learn about:
- Set goals
- Understand what your tenants want
- Social media marketing
- Property websites
- Student resources
- Paid ads
- Local SEO
- Event hosting
- Virtual tours
- Guerilla marketing ideas
- Good photography
- Retaining existing tenants
- Getting the right tenants
- Having systems in place
Is student housing a good investment?
There are over 18 million students enrolled in colleges in the US, many of whom are looking for affordable housing.
But what does the market look like?
Currently, the demand for student housing far outweighs the supply. And with rising costs of living, this problem is likely going to get worse.
For example, a recent survey found that 20% of students don’t have stable housing, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for new student housing investors.
So, how can you attract the right tenants? Keep reading – you’re about to find out.
What are the best student housing marketing strategies?
Here are some of the most effective ways to market student housing properties so you can:
- Get consistent income
- Work less
- Scale faster
Let’s dive in.
First things first: To have an effective student housing marketing strategy, you have to know what you’re aiming for. So, you could say, “I want to have 25 tenant applications by [X date].”
Keep in mind that students typically start looking for housing several months in advance, so make sure to align your marketing efforts accordingly.
For example, if you want to rent to students who are coming to campus in late August, you want to start marketing your rentals sometime in May or June.
And remember – the more applicants you have, the pickier you can be, so start early.
Figuring out what your target tenants want
If you know who you’re trying to attract, you’ll be able to market your rentals with their needs in mind.
So, let’s take a few examples:
- Students who have cars value readily available parking
- International students value fully furnished housing
- Students generally value high-speed internet
…And the list goes on.
By identifying who your ideal tenants are and what they’re looking for, it’ll be a lot easier to speak to their needs in your marketing.
And speaking of which, let’s get into the strategies…
Social media marketing
Social media can be a great way to market your student rentals because most students are on social media anyway.
And remember: You always want to go where your target audience already is.
What I do is place my ads on Facebook renter groups and Facebook Marketplace.
Typically, I join Facebook groups that are location specific. This makes it much easier to attract potential renters from good schools.
So, do some research in your target location to find the best schools, and then join those renter groups.
- [College Name] Housing
- [College Name] Off Campus
- [College Name] Class of 20XX
You can also join local housing Facebook groups:
- [City Name] Housing
- [County Name] Housing
- [City Name] Rentals
But maybe you’re wondering, “How effective is this marketing strategy?”
In my experience, it’s very effective.
In fact, I generally have 5-10 potential renters contact me within 48 hours of posting.
What I do is add a map of where the rental is located so prospective tenants can see how close to campus it is.
I recommend doing this because students value a short commute, and if your rental is nearby, that’s a huge plus.
To have the biggest impact, make sure you stay consistent and post your housing ad once a week.
You can also take advantage of Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube – even Reddit has threads for college housing.
Out of these 5, I’ve personally had the most success with Reddit, but your market may be different.
You can get great leads through websites like ULoop, Zillow, Apartments.com, Craigslist, and Roomies.com.
I also advertise on Avail and TurboTenant, which are convenient because they’ll post your ad on several sites at a time (like Zumper, Realtor.com, and Apartments.com).
Remember how I said you want to go where your ideal tenants already are? That’s because it’ll make your marketing MUCH easier.
So, for example, advertise your properties on campus bulletin boards, and find out if there are any resources that colleges offer students who are looking for affordable accommodation.
Many colleges with have their own student housing websites and forums for example. If you can include your properties in these student resources, that can help you reach more prospective renters.
Referrals are also an ideal way to get your rentals fully booked. And with college students, it’s easy – just ask them to invite their friends to come live with them.
Since many students don’t like living in cramped dorms with strangers, being able to choose who they live with is a huge plus.
And, to incentivize this even more, you can offer a $200-$300 referral bonus for any successful referral.
This leads to the next strategy, which is…
If you have good tenants, they might know people who would also make good tenants. So, make it easy for them to want to talk about your rentals to their friends.
For example, you could offer a small gift when tenants leave, like a tech gadget such as an external hardrive or Airpods. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but the gesture can make a big difference.
If you’re trying to reach a specific audience, paid ads can be a good option.
Full disclosure, though: I haven’t had much success going this route so far, but it’s a method that has worked for other investors.
To get local students, you want to optimize your property listings to target them specifically. What’s great about this method is that it’s an evergreen strategy, so you can use it indefinitely.
It won’t work overnight, so you have to be patient with this one.
Events can be a great way to get tenants.
For example, what I’ve done is hand out free ice cream to people on campus with a student ID.
All they had to do was share their contact info. And then I reached out saying they could get a referral bonus if they referred students they knew who were looking for housing.
And it worked! But this strategy does take time to set up, so keep that in mind.
Look: Reviews matter when it comes to effective marketing. After all, deciding where to live is a big decision for people, so getting positive reviews is one key to building trust.
Typically, I have a Google intake form for prospective tenants to fill out, and this is a good place to put reviews from previous occupants.
You can either ask tenants to leave feedback on Google or ask for testimonials to put on your website directly.
Whatever you choose to do, remember…
To get great reviews, you need to offer great accommodations. This doesn’t mean being constantly available or agreeing to unreasonable tenant requests, but it does mean things like:
- Being upfront about what your accommodation offers (and what it doesn’t)
- Setting expectations from you as a landlord
- Having house rules covering things like what they should do if they get locked out, something breaks, etc.
- Providing good security measures to keep students safe
Making sure things are clear from the beginning is a great way to foster a good rapport with your tenants and ultimately get helpful feedback.
College students are a particularly tech-savvy segment of the population, so using chatbots (which replicate how a human would communicate) on your website can be an effective way to engage with potential renters who prefer messaging to email.
Prospective renters love being able to see what a property looks like before deciding whether to move in or not, so virtual tours are a great marketing strategy.
For this, you can hire a real estate agent to create a 3D walkthrough… or take high quality videos and post them to social media.
Bottom line: Videos and tours are a powerful way to showcase what you have to offer. (And I’ll talk more about this in a bit.)
Guerilla marketing ideas
Guerilla marketing is all about approaching marketing from a unique angle. So, have fun with it.
Host an open house and have everyone come on the same day and time so students have a sense of urgency to lock in their bedroom
Do a student giveaway or drawing in exchange for their contact info
Depending on your neighborhood, these can be effective ways to spread the word about your rentals.
Alright, I’ve already talked about how virtual tours are a great way to showcase your rentals. So, unsurprisingly, it’s the same thing with photography.
In fact, real estate listings that have professional pictures sell 32% quicker – and the same concept applies to renting.
So, even if you don’t hire a pro to take pictures for you, keep these two things in mind:
- Use a wide-angle lens (so prospective tenants can see the whole space)
- Use good lighting
Nailing your photography is especially important for students who live far from campus and who might decide to rent your property sight unseen. So, make it a no-brainer for them to want to move in.
Retaining existing tenants
Okay, once you get good tenants, how can you retain them?
There are several effective ways to do this.
For example, you can customize your rentals with your tenants in mind (e.g., offer high-speed internet, a ping pong table to help them unwind with friends, and so on). This doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are a few other ideas that can help foster a good connection and increase retention:
- Respond to maintenance requests within 24 hours
- Have regular check-ins to see if your tenants have any requests, complaints, and so on
- Offer shortbread cookies and free refreshments to incoming tenants
And, as I talked about above, clarifying what tenants can expect by having clear house rules can also go a long way.
This leads to the next point, which is…
Be sure to ask your tenants what they like and don’t like about your property.
- The cons will help you zero in on what you need to improve (because no one knows what your property needs better than the people who live there)
- You can highlight the pros in your marketing
Getting the right tenants
A big part of renting to the right people is identifying and avoiding tenant red flags.
So, here are a few to look out for people who:
- Constantly ask for cheaper rent or want to waive the deposit
- Aren’t responsive
- Who party/do drugs, smoking, or alcohol (check their social media)
- Who have a lot of intimidating tattoos and gang signs
- Who move a lot for no clear reason
So how can you pick the RIGHT tenants?
One way is to target good colleges.
For example, if you rent near a college that’s known for being easy to get into and easy to get a degree, you’re more likely to get immature students versus if you rent near a college that has a lot of professional degrees.
Having systems in place
Alright, let’s talk about organization for a second…
To make managing your rentals as smooth as possible, get organized BEFORE your tenants move in.
So, for example:
- Create templates for your lease and house rules
- Put together an intake form
- Leave instructions for moving in/moving out
These steps will help clarify what your tenants can expect – and ultimately minimize your workload moving forward.
I talk more about that here:
So, there you have it!
Now you know what the most effective student housing marketing strategies are. As I know first-hand, doing marketing the right way can drastically increase interest in your rentals.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, though, don’t worry – I’ve been there.
That’s why I started coaching people just like you who want to have more freedom and flexibility in their life. Need help? You can work with me here.