Leasing Q&A with our Business Development Team

Leasing Q&A with our business development team, 4 co-workers working in open office space

The Campus Advantage Business Development team is responsible for building new client partnerships for Campus Advantage and is often the first point of communication with an owner or operator looking for assistance with consulting, management, or leasing. Whether for a large-scale portfolio or a single community, our team understands that a successful leasing season begins with understanding the current market and challenges, prioritizing collaboration and transparency, and keeping the momentum going every step of the way. We sat down with Thomas Demiranda, Chief Sales Officer, and Chris Berger, Business Development Executive, to discuss Campus Advantage’s track record and the advice they have for a successful, effective pre-leasing process.

Can you provide a brief overview of Campus Advantage’s leasing experience? How are the results for 2024–2025 pre-leasing so far?

Campus Advantage has 20 student housing leasing cycles under our belt, which includes more than 250 properties across the country. Our current portfolio average for 2024–2025 pre-leasing is more than 55%, which is 7% ahead of last year’s leasing velocity and in line with the industry average as a whole. In addition to that, our Revenue Management team continues to push rate tiers to reach our target effective rate growth goals for our clients.

What sets Campus Advantage’s pre-leasing approach apart from others in the industry?

When it comes to pre-leasing, there is a lot of collaboration between our corporate employees, Leasing Managers, and on-site teams. In January, our Leasing and Marketing Team held a weeklong, one-of-a-kind training conference aboard a cruise ship! The 2024 Momentum Summit was a huge success and included valuable training, teaching, and team-building exercises. In addition to leaving with a full plate of leasing ideas to implement at our properties, it was a great opportunity for these like-minded individuals to experience a different atmosphere and mindset to keep their momentum going through the rest of the leasing season.

Do pre-leasing numbers reflect the quality of customer experience at a community?

Absolutely. Outside of strategic marketing services like search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing (SMM), word-of-mouth marketing and organic traffic can really make or break your community’s pre-leasing velocity. To make the most of these valuable tools, properties need to ensure they provide the best possible resident experience, communicate with their residents, and host a variety of resident life events that add value beyond the standard expectation. Our Students First® program was one of the first in the industry, and we continue to pave the way in life, growth, and success initiatives that pay off in the form of higher renewal rates and resident satisfaction.

How does Campus Advantage tailor their leasing approach to meet the unique needs and challenges of different markets?

One of the biggest differentiators is our presence in different markets on a corporate level. CA’s experienced team of Senior Vice Presidents, Regional Managers, Traveling Leasing Specialists, and Operations Specialists works together to ensure every detail is communicated, every step of the way. In the student housing industry, markets can be similar, but there isn’t an umbrella solution for every market. This level of communication between site and corporate teams allows us to redirect efforts and devise market-tailored solutions to meet their next leasing goal.

Collaboration is crucial in leasing. How does teamwork with other departments within the company ensure a successful result for clients?

Internal collaboration between our Marketing, Operations, and Catalyst teams is very crucial to an efficient leasing season. At our recent FOCUS Conference, Brand Strategist Mark Renkens told a story about the importance of actively communicating and participating in reputation management and marketing campaigns, and we couldn’t agree more. The buy-in to a strategy on all levels — as well as the transparent feedback provided for future campaigns — is crucial to the success of these efforts.

Collaboration produces the best outcomes. We’ve seen it turn around reputations, occupancies, cash-flow deficits, and more. This symbiotic relationship between all departments has strengthened immensely at Campus Advantage over the past two decades, which is why many of our owners trust us to get the job done — and get it done right.

Budget considerations are often a concern for clients. How does your team balance providing high-quality leasing services while being mindful of budget constraints?

Similar to the above, we also believe collaboration is at the heart of all successful client relationships. If there is a concern around budget, we look in our toolbox of services and allocate the most effective tool that fits within that constraint. The transparency in our process and marketing strategy allows us to have candid conversations with clients on how we can work together in reaching our shared goals.

Technology is evolving rapidly. How does Campus Advantage leverage current and new technologies to enhance their leasing services, and what role does innovation play in your approach to student housing leasing?

Intelligence is one of our core values, and as a result, we make it a priority to stay ahead through innovation. Our team has put workflows in place to stay up to date on current technology while simultaneously keeping an eye on emerging technologies. Our partnership with our sister company, Catalyst, ensures we are always head of the curve on marketing innovation.

Could you share an example of a successful leasing project where your team addressed specific challenges for a client?

Liv+ Gainesville (Gainesville, Florida): The Campus Advantage team assisted this community from dirt to sale, providing guidance on unit mix, amenity spaces, market knowledge, and more during the design phase of the project, followed by third-party management services to oversee the lease-up and operations. Although the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect many student housing markets across the country, and despite the additional 783 beds that entered the Gainesville off-campus market in 2021, Liv+ achieved 100% occupancy for fall 2021 with a 6.8% increase in rent growth, or $52 per bed. As of April 2022, the community was 100% pre-leased for the upcoming year with a 45% renewal ratio, and a rate growth of 5.6%. Read the full case study.

Stateside (Bellingham, Washington): Campus Advantage was hired to provide initial consulting services and oversee the lease-up of this new development in a difficult market. Along with the help of Catalyst, subtle marketing pieces and digital ads were created to ramp up brand awareness while also starting leasing with a soft launch VIP list. This slower and less aggressive tactic proved to work well in this market, and allowed Stateside to achieve steady and continued rent growth. Stateside opened in August 2021 with 97% occupancy achieved. Within a year, the projected rent growth increased to 6.9% for 2022–2023, and they were 100% leased for 2023–2024. They are on pace to achieve 100% again this season with 6–7% rate growth. Read the full case study.

To read more case studies, visit https://campusadv.com/case-study/.