Location: San Diego, California
University: San Diego State University
In 2019, Campus Advantage was hired to perform due diligence on a 246-bed asset that was 87% pre-leased. The property had a slow start with their marketing and renewal efforts in fall 2018 due to San Diego State University implementing a new policy requiring both freshman and sophomore students to live on campus. Campus Advantage was also hired to oversee the property management and to implement an aggressive marketing and leasing strategy.
Upon taking over management, Campus Advantage immediately increased the property’s customer service standards and hosted various resident events to begin to build a sense of community. Campus Advantage’s Students First® Experience residence life program was implemented, and a resident appreciation week was hosted after the fall 2019 move-in to jumpstart the leasing season early and establish a positive reputation for the property. By fall 2020, Campus Advantage achieved 100% occupancy despite the global pandemic and the university announcing that all classes would be held online.
In fall of 2020, the University of San Diego’s total enrollment continued to increase by 1.4% from fall 2019; however, four of the 10 off-campus competitors were only able to achieve 63%-81% occupancy. Campus Advantage shifted its leasing strategy to primarily focus on digital efforts promoting Paseo Place’s prime location, secured entry, and competitive rates due to double-occupancy options. There was also a continued heavy focus on resident engagement during the critical six-week window after move-in, and this focus continued throughout the academic year which helped continue to foster the sense of community and resident connection notwithstanding COVID-19 restrictions. These combined efforts have allowed the property to continue to lead the market, being pre-leased ahead by 11% in March 2021, at a time when the San Diego market was behind the prior year’s total market average by approximately 21%.
Location: Austin, TX
University: University of Texas at Austin
Campus Advantage was hired in November 2018 to complete the initial lease-up of Moontower — a high-profile, new student housing development in Austin, Texas being developed by Lincoln Ventures, an Austin-based real estate investment and development firm. The 18-story, 567-bed property is located in West Campus, serving the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Catalyst, Campus Advantage’s marketing partner, was engaged to establish the brand for the asset in collaboration with Lincoln Ventures and assisted with creating digital marketing strategies to set the development apart within the competitive UT market. Numerous focus groups were held during the design phase of the development to tailor the design features to students’ preferences, and it was imperative that the brand reflected the attention to detail that was emphasized in the development plans.
Campus Advantage and Catalyst worked together in the planning and execution of a brand that would successfully launch the development into the local community. To do so, Moontower teamed up with local businesses for social media giveaways and on-site events. The development also incorporated influential UT alumni into the branding by naming floor plans after alumni and including quotes from Matthew McConaughey, a UT alumni celebrity, in the marketing materials. Moontower’s target demographic was identified early on, and the development worked to brand and market to these students. The property emphasized guerrilla marketing efforts coupled with unique, aggressive digital strategies, including SEO, SEM, and social media meme campaigns, to drive leads for the development during the initial key leasing months. Additional marketing and leasing efforts included establishing a marketing street team, sponsoring Greek Life events, and hosting social media contests. Moontower held a philanthropy contest in May 2019 to assist in launching the brand, which resulted in more than 16,000 likes on Instagram.
Moontower has established itself as the place to be with its top-tier living experience, including an excellent location, high-end finishes, a wellness-driven amenity set, and unparalleled customer service. These combined branding and marketing efforts led to the development reaching 100% pre-lease occupancy by April 2020 — 15% ahead of the development’s direct competitors, and 27% ahead of the off-campus market.
“The strong partnership and collaboration between Lincoln Ventures and the Campus Advantage team resulted in the extremely successful first lease-up of Moontower. Building onto the positive reputation of Lincoln Venture’s prior West Campus developments, the brand and marketing strategy created by the Campus Advantage team caught the attention of all UT students, resulting in immediate demand that quickly drove leasing velocity. Leasing started 15 months before the project was scheduled to deliver, a true testament to how quality development product and integrated marketing can resonate with students. This lease-up surpassed our expectations and we are excited to continue to work alongside the Campus Advantage team to serve our Moontower residents with an unparalleled experience in the West Campus market.” – David Kanne, Founder and Managing Principal of Lincoln Ventures
Campus Advantage will continue to provide property management services after opening, which will include oversight of property operations, marketing and leasing campaigns to drive subsequent leasing seasons, and the delivery of the Students First® Experience residence life program.
About Lincoln Ventures:
Lincoln Ventures is an Austin, Texas-based real estate investment firm focused on acquiring, developing, and managing high-quality real estate in superior locations throughout the United States. They are principally engaged in the ownership, acquisition, development, and management of both residential and commercial real estate assets. They employ an opportunistic investment strategy, seeking to acquire assets that are underutilized, leveraging their teams’ unique ability to assess opportunity, innovatively design, and effectively implement a carefully crafted strategic plan. With their unique hands-on management approach, they unlock potential and create value for their assets, partners, and the surrounding community, achieving superior risk-adjusted returns.
Location: Champaign, Illinois
University: The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
In 2019, Campus Advantage was hired to manage a 428-bed asset that was significantly behind their market in pre-leasing velocity. Campus Advantage took over management in May when the property was 78% pre-leased. Historically, the property had reached budgeted occupancy. However, the Champaign market had five new developments deliver in 2019, requiring existing assets to have a more strategic marketing and leasing approach. Upon taking over management, Campus Advantage immediately implemented increased customer service standards and hosted various resident events to begin to build a sense of community. Campus Advantage’s Students First® Experience residence life program was implemented, and a resident appreciation week was hosted after the fall 2019 move-in. Campus Advantage also recruited and hired new staff for the property who believed in the vision of the asset and worked diligently to establish a positive reputation for the property. Campus Advantage achieved 94.4% occupancy in August 2019.
For the fall 2020 leasing season, Campus Advantage positioned the rates competitively using an aggressive tiered approach, and established a new, strong leasing team. There was also a heavy focus on resident engagement during the critical six-week window after move-in, and this focus continued throughout the academic year, which helped create a sense of culture and resident connection at the community. These combined efforts allowed the property to reach 100% pre-leased by February 2020, at a time when the Champaign market was 45% pre-leased. 212 East was the first community in Campus Advantage’s portfolio, as well as the Champaign market, to reach this 100% target.
Location: Arlington, TX
University: University of Texas at Arlington
In 2016, Stark Enterprises engaged Campus Advantage to perform a Market Analysis and Feasibility study for Liv+ Arlington — a new 789-bed student housing development near the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). The market study included an analysis of on- and off-campus housing, rental rates, concessions, enrollment, and the University’s plans for future growth. Campus Advantage compiled recommendations for the development project, including a unit mix, amenities, apartment features, marketing tactics, and rental rates based on their findings. All recommendations were tailored to increase interest from the unique UTA student demographic plus factored in the University’s evolution from a primarily commuter campus.
Stark Enterprises continued to engage Campus Advantage for design and development consulting throughout the development’s planning and design process. Community spaces were carefully designed to contribute to residents’ academic success and wellness as well as peak interest from prospective students and parents during tours. The two-story clubhouse was designed to include a variety of study spaces and a spacious computer center to accommodate varying study styles and group sizes while remaining lively and inviting. The pool deck and courtyards were also carefully crafted to provide unique spaces for students to lounge, socialize, unwind, or study. To differentiate itself within the Arlington market, Campus Advantage recommended Liv+ feature a fresh market café to provide residents with 24/7 access to a variety of convenient, healthy and satisfying snacks.
Campus Advantage’s affiliate marketing partner, Catalyst, also worked closely with Stark Enterprises to develop the Liv+ brand and create marketing materials that would highlight the one- of-a-kind experience the development would offer. A strategic marketing plan was created to sell the Liv+ brand through online digital strategies as well as traditional grassroots marketing efforts. It was imperative to sell the upscale resident experience in addition to the development’s amenity offerings while the project was under construction as several new developments had recently delivered, and future developments were in the pipeline.
Liv+ Arlington opened in fall of 2018 and quickly developed a strong reputation at UTA for its robust amenity package, unmatched Students First® residence life programming, and customer service focused management team. The property’s J Turner Research Online Reputation Assessment score is 21 points higher than the market average; a true testament to resident satisfaction and the strong rapport built between management and residents. The management team also developed close relationships with key UTA on-campus departments, securing master lease contracts with both athletic and academic programs. The strategic marketing efforts, key relationship building, and dedication from the on-site team resulted in the property achieving 96% occupancy for fall 2019.
“Our cohesive partnership with Campus Advantage has been instrumental in the success of Liv+ Arlington. Together, we have built strong relationships with UTA, devised and deployed aggressive marketing strategies to achieve occupancy goals, and created a rewarding living experience for residents who choose to call Liv+ Arlington their home. Stark Enterprises was built on the philosophy of creating spaces that evoke visitors’ enjoyment, and we are proud of the Liv+ brand and experience we have built together with Campus Advantage to continue that philosophy. We look forward to delivering this unique product to other markets together in the future.” – Stacie Schmidt, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Stark Enterprises.
About Stark Enterprises:
For over 40 years, Stark Enterprises has been developing and managing generational assets that leave visitors with lasting impressions. Stark’s nearly $2 billion portfolio consists of retail, entertainment, office, residential, hotel and student housing environments, totaling approximately 8 million square feet, located in over nine states. With over $1 billion under development, Stark properties are always managed with the company’s long-term investment strategy in mind and are continually recognized by customers and industry leaders as among the most beautiful, well operated and maintained properties in the nation.
Location: Orlando, Florida
University: University of Central Florida
Northgate Lakes is a 710-bed, purpose-built student housing property adjacent to the University of Central Florida campus. Campus Advantage acquired the property in July of 2013. The property had historically performed at the top of the market for occupancy due to its premier location, but rented at a discount to competitors due to the amenities and exterior being older and in need of enhancement. Campus Advantage devised a strategic capital plan which focused on addressing deferred maintenance and updating the units, as well as repurposing and refreshing the common area amenities. The upgrades were completed over the course of two academic years and were completed in the summer of 2018. Following these strategic upgrades, Northgate Lakes saw a 10.5% rent growth over a two-year period, maintained 100% occupancy year-over-year, and increased resident retention by 10%, reaching a 40% retention rate.
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
In 2016, Campus Advantage was engaged by an owner/operator of a conventional 731-bed multi-family property in close proximity to Purdue University. The property marketed mostly to young professionals and was struggling to reach occupancy over 75%. Campus Advantage took over management and Catalyst, Campus Advantage’s marketing partner, was engaged to rebrand the property to better appeal to students and graduates. Campus Advantage’s Students First® residence life programming was implemented, along with a strong marketing and leasing campaign. The property underwent capital improvements which were highlighted in the new marketing materials. With the new marketing approach to strategically target students, and by improving the overall resident experience, the property was able to reach 100% occupancy in both 2017 and 2018, renewed over 55% of residents in 2018, and achieved 8% rent growth following the property improvements.
Location: Orlando, Florida
University: University of Central Florida
The Verge, built in 1999, was the eleventh acquisition for Campus Advantage’s programmatic joint venture with a large state pension plan. The Property is a purpose-built student housing community in Orlando, FL, located one mile from the University of Central Florida campus, consisting of 312 units and 930 beds. The Property offers one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and is served by the University shuttle service. At the time of acquisition, The Verge offered amenities including a resort style swimming pool, grilling area, 24-hour fitness center, volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, and 24-hour access to the computer center and game room. This asset was historically very highly occupied, but at the expense of maximizing rental rates.
Campus Advantage sought to renovate the property to drive revenue, provide better use of the space and amenities for the residents, improve the property clientele and reduce bad debt, and maintain the historically high occupancy the property had achieved. In addition, Campus Advantage identified unit upgrades that would provide long term utility savings for the property (common area) and the residents (units).
Implementation and Execution
Working with Kelle Contine Interior Design and Integrity Property Solutions, Campus Advantage made approximately $6M in capital upgrades. Exterior upgrades included a total roof replacement, addition of vehicle and pedestrian gates, installation of LED lighting in breezeways, light poles and wall packs, and landscaping enhancements.
To meet the needs of today’s students, several amenities were repurposed. An existing outdoor basketball court was converted to a new enclosed, club-sized fitness center. The movie theatre was converted into a new fitness-on-demand space with spin bikes, medicine balls and yoga equipment. The pool area was enhanced by resurfacing the deck, eliminating a dated fireplace and replacing it with a custom-built fire pit, along with the addition of an outdoor kitchen. In addition, the IT infrastructure was upgraded with new wireless radios throughout and increased bandwidth, providing much quicker speeds and wireless access to all residents.
Unit upgrades included installation of faux wood flooring in the common areas and bathrooms, replacement of bedroom carpet, all new appliances, addition of faux wood blinds to the common area, upgraded LED lighting throughout the unit, new framed-in mirrors and lights in the bathrooms, granite countertops with undermounted sinks in the kitchen, new bathroom counters, sinks and faucets, and new HVAC units and thermostats in every apartment.
Effective Rental Rate
In-place average effective rents were $591 for the 2015/2016 academic year when the property was acquired.
Although renovations were only just beginning, The Verge grew rents by 5.9% for the 2016/2017 academic year, compared to 1.8% for the previous academic year achieved by the seller.
Renovation premiums were fully realized with lease-ups for the 2017/2018 academic year, achieving an average rent of $702, a 20% increase from the pre-renovation rates.
The occupancy rate was 99% for the 2015/2016 academic year when the property was acquired.
Post-acquisition, The Verge reached 100% occupancy for both the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic years. As of January 2018, The Verge is 20% ahead of the prior year’s pre-leasing velocity and tracking for an additional 4.6% rent growth.
Net Promoter Score
Property survey results indicated a 30% increase in resident satisfaction with their accommodations, and the Net Promoter Score for the property (likelihood to recommend the community) improved to 81% post-renovation.
Operational Cost Savings
The installation of exterior LED lighting resulted in a 20% reduction to common area electric expense. The replacement of the HVAC units and the installation of LED lighting to unit interiors reduced unit utility expense by 40%. From 2016 to 2017, the overall NOI grew by 32%.
The Verge – Pool Deck (Before)
The Verge – Pool Deck (After)
The Verge – Outdoor Grill (Before)
The Verge – Outdoor Grill (After)
The Verge – Clubhouse
Location: Tampa, Florida
University: University of South Florida
Campus Advantage was hired as a third-party manager of ON50, a 444-bed student housing property in South Florida, when a large institution acquired the property with a partner in 2010. Campus Advantage later acquired ON50 in 2014 when the property came up for sale. It was acquired in part due to its excellent location in Tampa, Florida, across 50th Street from the University of South Florida campus. Built in 1998, the property offers one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units and 15 different unit types. The challenge for Campus Advantage was in dealing with this large variety of unit types and placing tenants together within the various units. From a physical standpoint, Campus Advantage also had to find solutions to the issues caused by deferred maintenance.
Upon acquisition, Campus Advantage immediately implemented a value-add strategy to refresh the property. The plan devised by Campus Advantage and sister marketing firm, Catalyst – a real estate marketing specialist agency – included a refreshing of the brand to create a new look and feel, updating the amenity package, and upgrading 30% of apartment units.
To address deferred maintenance, the team replaced all of the roofs, re-painted the entire exterior of the property, cleaned the mature landscaping, and renovated a select number of units to modernize, installing vinyl plank flooring, upgrading bathrooms including vanities, and replacing HVAC systems. A large portion of the $224,000 capital investment went towards improving amenities to meet the expectations of students in the South Florida market, including a complete revamp of the pool area and the addition of an outdoor game area in the courtyards. The completed property now offers a computer lab with free printing, a billiard and study lounge, as well as a community kitchenette with attached event area. The property also offers a full-size outdoor basketball court, an oasis style pool, a resort style hot tub, a 10-acre nature preserve, a hammock garden, and a recreational courtyard with bocce balls, horseshoes, cornhole and ring toss.
To further elevate interest in the property, the marketing specialists at Catalyst worked with the on-site team to revitalize the property’s brand with a vibe the student audience could relate to. As part of the Campus Advantage family of properties, residents were able to enjoy the signature residence life program Students First™, a unique approach to resident living which fosters a dynamic, engaged community and offers a pool of resources to support residents’ journeys to success. The integrated marketing and residence life approach, combined with the capital investment strategy, worked to enhance the overall appeal of the property in the marketplace.
By implementing this unique strategy, Campus Advantage increased the value of ON50 and closed on its sale in April 2017. In the 36 months from its acquisition date to the sale of the property, Campus Advantage achieved Net Operating Income growth of 17.1%, or 5.2% compounded annually. Residents of ON50 were able to benefit from Campus Advantage’s expertise while the company enjoyed a quick and profitable return on its investment.
Location: Tampa, Florida
University: University of South Florida
Campus Advantage acquired 42North, a 420-bed student housing property, in 2014 after third-party managing the asset for one year.
With a short-term business plan to inject capital into an older property in an effort to increase its value in the University of South Florida market, Campus Advantage identified and executed a value-add investment strategy including:
- Infusing capital to cure deferred maintenance
- Repainting the exterior and re-roofing all buildings
- Improving the IT infrastructure, including installing new fiber lines and wireless Internet infrastructure and rebuilding the cable infrastructure
- Upgrading unit interiors with new bedroom furniture and appliances
- Adding and improving amenities, including new fitness center equipment, a clubhouse revamp, and adding a hammock garden and dog park
To increase lead traffic to the office and website, Campus Advantage worked with marketing partner, Catalyst, to establish an integrated marketing approach including elements such as a themed move-in and resident appreciation campaign to deepen residents’ connection to the property, early and consistent renewal campaigns targeting residents, and integrated (online/offline) media campaigns to attract new leases.
With these strategies, in addition to maintaining and operating the property to meet the company’s high standards, Campus Advantage increased 42North’s net operating income by 25.8% in 36 months. In alignment with its plan, Campus Advantage closed the sale of the property in May 2017, with its involvement in renovations resulting in a significant increase in property value.