Big Ten Schools Lead in Pre-Leasing

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The Big Ten might not be playing football this fall, but schools in the conference still registered the strongest pre-leasing velocity for off-campus student housing as of July. The oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the U.S., the Big Ten is comprised of schools located primarily in the Midwest region, but stretching to the Northeast. This collective of schools topped other conferences, with a pre-leasing average of 86%. (The Big Ten, Pac 12, Mountain West and Mid-American conferences each cancelled football and other fall sports due to COVID-19.) Schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) are similar in nature, although the conference’s geographic footprint extends mainly along the East Coast. Pre-leasing velocity was at 84.9% in the ACC in July. On the other hand, operators have struggled to fill beds in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and the Mountain West Conference. Schools in the MAC are geographically similar to the Big Ten schools, but MAC schools are typically in smaller metro areas and have struggled with enrollment declines in recent years. The Mountain West extends throughout the Rocky Mountains with a handful of California-based schools included. There, a combination of slower-than-desired enrollment growth alongside more stringent social distancing have led to weak pre-lease velocity. Schools in Conference USA (CUSA) are by far the nation’s lagging campuses. CUSA schools are almost exclusively located in Sun Belt markets and feature a mix of college town settings and suburban campuses that have historically been commuter schools. Further complicating pre-lease velocity at many CUSA schools is a relatively large share of new construction in recent years.