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California  + San Diego  + Student Housing  | 
San Buenaventura SVA Architects

No Surprise to Insiders: Student Housing is Resilient in COVID Crisis

Several sectors of the commercial real estate industry have proven to be recession-resistant in the past 18 months, including industrial and multifamily properties, of course. But one other segment has shown resiliency in the wake of the COVID crisis: the student housing industry. While this was not a surprise to student housing insiders, Frederick W. Pierce, IV, president and CEO, Pierce Education Properties, says the surprise was how insiders took this all in stride. 

“The student housing sector has proven, again, that it is recession resistant. This time, even pandemic resistant,” says Pierce. 

He points to occupancies during the pandemic remaining high (only 3 percent decline in occupancy for Fall 2020, which has been recaptured and then some in Fall 2021), collections remaining high (98 to 99 percent for the Pierce Education portfolio in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 respectively) and the show-up rate of approximately 99.5 percent. In fact, student housing collections outpaced multifamily by 200 to 300 basis points during the pandemic.

“What may surprise the investment community is that method of course delivery, whether substantially in-person, hybrid or substantially online, had no material impact on off-campus occupancies,” says Pierce. “Rather, university markets which experienced declines in off-campus occupancies were in states and universities where politicians and university administrators had confusing or negative messaging regarding COVID-19-related lockdowns: California and Michigan in particular.”


Inside The Story

Frederick Pierce

About Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown has decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing management with organizations including Coldwell Banker Residential, Grubb & Ellis, Marcus & Millichap, NAIOP, SIOR and ALM. In those positions, she worked in conjunction with chief executive officers and chief marketing officers to create corporate messaging, cohesive branding standards, strategic marketing plans and thought pieces. Brown is a frequent speaker at industry events and an editing adjunct professor for an online course. She has a master’s degree in mass communications from San Jose State University.

  • ◦Development
  • ◦Economy
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