Fall 2021’s Final Pre-Lease Rate Tops 92%

The student housing pre-lease season ended with one key accomplishment: pre-leasing surpassed the 90% threshold. In August, the last month of the pre-lease season, pre-lease rates hit 92.2% across the core RealPage 175 universities.

This comes on the heels of increasingly strong monthly gains in the summer months. August 2021’s rate surpasses both 2020’s pandemic-impacted rate and 2019’s healthy rate of 91.5%. The 90% threshold is considered healthy and essentially full, though performance still varies by university.

From July to August, pre-leasing jumped 6%, lower than the 10% gains seen recently, but it makes sense that momentum waned in August because there were simply less beds available to lease. This healthy final pre-lease rate comes after an underwhelming spring when uncertainty in the student housing sector was still high.

Also in August, rent change hit a more than two year high as annual effective rents grew 2.5%. The recent trend of properties more than one mile from campus claiming the strongest rent growth shifted. In August, properties within a half mile to one mile to campus claimed rent growth of 3.1%. Properties more than one mile from campus grew rents 2.7% and properties within a half mile to campus grew rents 2.3%.

Across all distances, rent change overshadowed 2020 and 2019 performance by a wide margin. Nationwide, student housing rents were $706 per bed per month in August. Properties within a half mile had rents of $768, followed by $628 for properties a half mile to one mile from campus and $589 for properties more than one mile from campus.

Over 100 schools in the RealPage 175 have pre-lease rates of 90% or higher. Only about a dozen schools have pre-lease rates below 75% and none are below 60%. In 2020, less than 70 schools claimed final pre-lease rates of 90% or higher and several more were true laggards with final pre-lease rates below 60%.