Buying a House for College Students

Buying property for your college student may be a good alternative to paying room and board

Despite the rising costs for higher education, not all of these costs go directly to tuition, and there are steps you can take to offset some of the financial burden. For students who choose to live on campus, room and board can represent as much as half of their total college expenses. Often, after their freshmen year, students choose to live in off-campus housing that generally costs less than room and board on campus.

As a parent, you may still end up paying these bills for a time, and if you have more than one student at the same school, you may want to consider buying property for your college students. Buying a house for college students who are close in age could end up saving you money. Plus, you can avoid negotiations with a landlord and earn a little equity for your investment. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of helping your college students buy a house. Then, plan ahead for what you'll do with the property when they graduate.

Consider the locality and demographics before buying a house for college students

Depending on your situation, investing in rental property in a college town might be a good idea. It's a better idea if the area is home to large populations of two key demographics:

  • College students. Enrollment in college, increasingly considered a pre-requisite for a successful career, is steadily rising. That means property owners near campus will generally have a steady supply of renters.
  • Retirees. The rising number of Baby Boomers who are entering their retirement years, combined with their documented preference for living in college towns, tends to keep property values high in these locations.

Be sure to investigate the area fully and talk with a real estate agent to better understand property values and typical rent payments. Since this is going to be their home away from home, you want the area to be safe and convenient to campus, grocery stores and other necessities.

Do a breakeven analysis to determine how affordable this will be

Compare the cost of renting for four or more years to the cost of buying the property for college students. Remember that purchasing a property will probably require a down payment and closing costs, but this may still be cheaper in the end if you own the property for at least five to seven years. And don't forget you'll have earned equity as well.

When you take everything into consideration, the prospects of buying a house for your college student may improve if you have more than one child attending that college at the same time, and your student or students plan to be at the same school for more than four years.

Be aware of possible complications when buying property for college students

While there are several benefits to buying property for college students, there are also important things to consider before purchasing the house.

  • Some scholarships specify that the money can be used toward on-campus room and board but not off-campus housing.
  • Some 529 plans, the popular tax-favored vehicles used to save for college, limit the amount that can be devoted to off-campus housing before taxes are assessed on the proceeds.
  • You will need someone to manage the property. Be sure to investigate local repairmen who you can call if you can't get there.
  • Plan ahead for what you'll do with the house during summer break. Will your students be staying on campus for research or extra classes, or should you consider renting it?

What to do with the property after your students graduate

What should you do after your students have moved out? Should you sell the property, rent it out to other students or find other, non-student tenants? Work with a local real estate agent to determine the home's value and what you might reasonably receive if you sold it now.

If you decide that you want to rent out the house, follow these steps:

  • Find a property manager you can rely on to make repairs in your absence.
  • Draw up standard lease agreements for potential renters with the help of your lawyer. Be sure to include expectations as to the upkeep of the house as well as the services you will provide as landlord.
  • Use a real estate agent to rent it out for you.
  • Decide if you want to continue renting to college students or if you'd rather focus on another demographic. This may affect the effort you put into staging and maintaining the home, as a family or retired couple will be more focused on aesthetics than a student would be.

Take out a second mortgage or Family Loan to help your college student buy a house

Work with Citizens Bank to balance the mortgage on this rental property with your primary residence. We also offer a Family Loan that can be used when an immediate family member will be the occupant of the new property. Let us help you with home equity loans and lines of credit for home improvement projects you may need to undertake to keep up the property. You can discuss your borrowing and financing options with a qualified Citizens Bank home loan originator at 1-888-514-2300 who can help guide you through the financial process of buying a house for college students.