College Housing: the basics of renting & owning as a student

Posted by on Friday, May 9th, 2014 at 9:16am.

Check out our Friday articles in the At Home section of The Daily Camera.

Once a school is decided upon, there are plenty of decisions left for college students to make: what to major in, where to live, and whether to rent or buy a property to live in during their college careers. As home to Colorado University, Boulder’s real estate market is highly influenced by students. In this week’s episode of RE/MAX of Boulder Radio, host Duane Duggan interviews Todd Ulrich of PG Rentals and Timmy Duggan, who owned a two-bed condo during the 4 years he went to CU.

Ulrich reports a less than 1% vacancy rate among Boulder rental properties, a figure that stays stagnant for most of the year. Heavily influenced by the school year, most leases begin and end in August. The typical one-and-a-half-times-rent security deposit is moving closer to double one month’s rent, says Ulrich. Also, parents or guardians are often required to cosign a lease as means of financial security.

Ulrich recognizes the CU Off-Campus Housing Fair as an excellent resource for students—especially freshmen—to get a feel for what kinds of rental properties are in their budget, as well as to meet with rental companies and independent landlords. PG Rentals starts preleasing in December and comes to the February fair with just a quarter of their properties available. Students should pay attention to zoning and occupancy laws when looking to rent and be aware of the consequences of housing more occupants than what a property is zoned for.

On the other side, Timmy Duggan speaks about owning a property as a college student.

“The responsibility of being a home owner can be daunting as a 19-year-old,” says Duggan, who still owns the condo he purchased 12 years ago as a CU student. Reasons his father and seasoned REALTOR give for purchasing property for a college student are property appreciation, the stability of living in the same place year after year, and eliminating issues with storing belongings between leases. “It quickly becomes a learning experience for a student,” says Duane Duggan, “a student becomes a landlord and is responsible for keeping up with maintenance. They learn a lot about credit and investment, too.”  Like cosigning for a rental property, it is almost guaranteed a parent or guardian will be required to take out a mortgage on behalf of their student’s property, as a steady income and good credit history is required for a loan.

The Duggans admit they purchased their “kiddy condo” at a time where 3% down was enough to be approved for a mortgage. “It’s far more common to see 20% and even 30% down requirements these days,” says Duane.

With rent in Boulder increasing an average of 4% each year for the past eight years, buying is something to consider when exploring housing options for your college student, but isn’t the right option for everyone. To learn about the current Boulder real estate market or to listen to the full RE/MAX of Boulder Radio interview below. 

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