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Modernization of Student Housing Boosting Leasing, EdR CEO Says

07/03/2014 | By Allen Kenney

Randy Churchey, president and CEO of student housing REIT EdR (NYSE: EDR), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview during REITWeek 2014: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.

EdR’s estimates show supply growth slowing in the student housing sector in the next year. Churchey called the trend an “encouraging” sign. Supply growth and enrollment growth in equilibrium, he said.

“One of the things that those numbers don’t include is the modernization that is going on at college campuses,” Churchey noted. Nearly half of students live in older single-family housing, but more are moving back into the kind of “purpose-built” student housing owned by EdR. As a result, the company’s leasing has thrived this year.

EdR has undertaken an effort to recycle capital into higher-yielding assets. Since Churchey started with the company in 2010, it has sold 48 percent of the assets that it owned at that time. That has taken some of the urgency away from pruning the portfolio, according to Churchey. Today, the company has four assets on the market for sale.

EdR is in the middle of a major development project at the University of Kentucky, and Churchey said he hopes that the company can stay involved with similar projects going forward. Churchey pointed out that the reasons that the school entered into the agreement with his company reflect “typical” needs of universities with regard to their housing stock, including a desire to free up funds for other uses.

“The other thing they look at is that at a company like ours, this is our business,” Churchey said. “We build student housing. We operate student housing. Their business is educating students.”