Off-Campus Housing: Condos For Students

If you didn’t happen to purchase real estate twenty years ago as part of your child’s college saving plan – well, that’s not a problem. It’s not too late to think about buying a condo property right now, to provide your own off-campus student housing for your child to live in while he or she is still attending college. And indeed, there are many good reasons to consider a condominium unit as an ideal home for the college years:

  • Stability: Your student will no longer need to go apartment-hunting each year, or be at the mercy of the annual September housing crunch that occurs in so many college towns. There are advantages to becoming an established resident in a single neighborhood for four years, as opposed to moving from on neighborhood to another each year.
  • Moving and Storage: Having one place to live means no more moving trucks or sofa-hauling up and down flights of stairs. There’s also no need to rent storage units to store possessions over the summer break.
  • Fixed Expenses: In past years, apartment rents in most American cities have regularly increased each year, in order to keep up with the costs of inflation. By securing a condo unit with a fixed rate mortgage, the housing payments for your student will be much more predictable. You should still plan for some increases in taxes and insurance, however.
  • No Security Deposits: Extra move-in expenses, such as security deposits, rental application fees, and first-last month’s rent, would no longer be a problem. Plus, you never have to go through the ordeal of getting security deposits back again.
  • Home Ownership: There are plenty of life lessons to be gained from the experience of condo ownership: principles of real estate investing, home maintenance and upkeep; even the process of dealing with a Condo Owner’s Association can be educational.
  • Equity Appreciation: Although never guaranteed, there is a strong possibility of financial gains resulting from the underlying appreciation of property values. Possible financial benefits include tax deductions on interest and improvements, as well as debt reduction of an amortized loan which builds up equity.

There have been many instances of students selling their condo upon graduation and realizing a tidy profit – paying for a substantial chunk of their college education with the capital gains! But of course, there are always potential drawbacks to any real estate scenario, and condos for college students are no exception.

  • Changing Schools: College years can be quite volatile, and remaining in one place for four or more years might not be what actually comes to pass. Transferring schools, stopping out to travel, or even dropping out and moving back home – anything can happen and it’s best to have a plan. Fortunately, condos are usually easy to rent out in cases of unexpected “vacancy”, so all is not lost.
  • Roommates: If you decide to purchase a larger condo and have your student seek a roommate to help cover costs, then a whole extra set of responsibilities will be required, including rent collection and the hassle of dealing with potentially irresponsible roommates and visitors.
  • Decline in Value: Even though demand for housing in college towns tends to support basic property values, you may find that the actual condo appreciation after a few years falls short of projections. Even with this unfortunate turn of events, it’s very possible that the shortfall would amount to less than the amount of money that would have been spent on rent and moving expenses over several years.

Before you decide to buy a condo for your student, crunch the numbers to make sure the investment makes sense. Even if buying a nice condominium is more expensive than anticipated, you might make the decision to take the plunge anyway, in order to enhance the quality of life for your child during those busy college years. After all, the less time he or she spends worrying about finding off-campus housing, the more time left over to study, right?