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Intenrational Students: A Growing Rental Market

HI3-24-14International relations may ebb and flow, but one thing seems constant: students from all over the world still travel abroad to study and experience new cultures. Just as American college students eagerly plan for semesters abroad in Paris or Milan, their counterparts from all over the globe flock to college campuses in the US. And those international students can keep rental dollars flowing into an investor’s pockets.

Housing for international students near college campuses is a kind of short term rental that keeps on giving – and while student renters may bring their share of headaches, they’re also likely to bring a landlord/investor a stream of income, especially if there’s an international student placement organization involved.

The Institute for International Education, one of those agencies, offers recent statistics showing that in an average year, close to 800,000 foreign students are enrolled at American college and university campuses. While many of these collegiates opt to live on campus or off campus with host families, a growing number use stipends or other study funds to rent lodgings off campus at going market rates.

Some stay only a semester, but others working on longer-term programs may keep renting for years. Their connection with others at home and in the US also help to keep properties rented year after year.

What kind of housing do international students look for? The answer is as varied as the individuals themselves. Some pool funds to rent single-family homes; others might rent condos or units in multiplexes. Graduate students with families might look for stable neighborhoods farther from campus. And thanks to an increasingly varied academic curriculum, summer most likely won’t see a slowdown in student renters, many of whom may be taking advantage of summer intensive programs in languages, sciences and other subjects.

How to find international student renters? Advertising with sources like student-housing services and campus newspapers can get an investor started but a better bet is to make contact with one of the many placement and support services for study abroad programs. Though their services may vary, in many cases they can act as an intermediary – or buffer – between landlord and student enter, making sure that rents are paid from stipends and helping to resolve problems that come up.

Renting to an international student is in some ways no different from any other rental arrangement. You’ll need to check reference and draw up a comprehensive rental agreement or lease. But students may not have a long credit history, and their trip may be paid from non-income sources from a college, special program or family.

Cultural expectations can play a big part in the success of international student rentals, specially for those who are venturing aboard for the first time, so it’s important to leave nothing to assumptions and get help from an interpreter or agency representative to make sure everything is clear.

Student renters may not be the first group to come to mind in the quest to keep income flowing from rental properties. But for investors taking Jason Hartman’s advice to diversify and look fore new investing opportunities, the international student community can keep rental income flowing.   (Top image:Flickr/CatieRhodes)


“International Students in the United States.” Project Atlas. The Institute of International Education. Iie.org. 24 Mar 2014.

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The Heroic Investing Team

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