My family has outgrown our current house
and we have found a larger house that would be perfect for
us. However, it is located in a college town next to rental
properties, mainly duplexes to four-unit buildings. How will
property value be affected by the close proximity of rental
units? What other issues should I consider?
Proximity to rental properties can be an iffy proposition anywhere.
Tenants are transitory, and thus unpredictable, and can keep
a neighborhood in cultural flux. Of course, some college towns
are far better policed than others, and some have better neighborhood
associations, code-enforcement departments and stricter housing
regulations than others. You'll have to become a college-town
"student" yourself and do your homework on the neighborhood.
As for appreciation, data from the Office of
Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight indicates that in cities
where student enrollment is equal to at least a fourth of
its population, housing appreciation has trailed nationwide
averages by a couple of percentage points in recent years
-- it rose roughly 3 percent annually in college towns compared
to 5 percent in noncollege towns. That will vary from city
to city, of course.
It seems that there's a Web site for everything,
and there's one called College
Town Issues that touches on the various cultural aspects
of college neighborhoods across the country. Using a bank
of newspaper and internally generated articles and reports,
the site focuses on the best college towns, the most "walkable"
communities, active neighborhood groups and such issues as
conflicts between neighbors and college students.
Assuming that the campus is reasonably close
to where you're moving, and that students will occupy a sizable
portion of the neighborhood about nine months a year, your
primary concern will probably be noise, and the possibility
that students may be pouring out into yards and streets for
regular late-night soirees. Sometimes, drunken students mean
vandalism, yard urination, etc., though hopefully not in your
case. I would definitely call on a few long-time residents
in the neighborhood for their input before you buy.
Any way you look at it, there'll probably be
a few quality-of-life trade-offs. But if college enrollment
is high, the university is well established and campus-area
homes are stately and for the most part well-maintained, you'll
probably fare better on the real-estate side of the equation.
And, you might really enjoy the intellectual buzz of living
in an academic community.
Here's another aspect to consider. You mention
that your family has outgrown your current place, so I'm assuming
you've got at least a couple kids. If they plan to attend
college in the town you're moving to, consider the dorm/housing
savings you'll enjoy if you decide to remain in your neighborhood
until they attend the university. Even if you and your spouse
want to move, your kid or kids could remain there, depending
on their ages, and you could rent out the other rooms in the
place to reliable students. (Screen them carefully, needless
to say!) Having someone you trust on the premises to keep
an eye on things is not a bad idea. And when your kids graduate,
you could keep the place as a rental home, or just sell it
Good luck with your move.