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Student Housing Sector Poised to Meet Demand

03/30/2012 | By Matthew Bechard

With an increasing number of students going to college, there's plenty of room for the student housing sector to flourish, according to Ted Rollins, co-chairman and CEO of Campus Crest Communities (NYSE: CCG ).

In a video interview at REITWise 2012®: NAREIT's Law, Accounting & Finance Conference in Hollywood, Fla., Rollins added that fundamentals for the student housing REIT are positive for several other reasons as well.

"We have an average stay in our industry. In the old days of college, four years was kind of the paradigm. Now the average stay is slipping up to five and six years," he said.

Rollins said enrollment by foreign students is also contributing to growth in the college demographic.

While the need for student housing will continue to grow as more students choose to attend a higher education institution, Rollins said the three publicly traded student housing REITs, Campus Crest Communities, EdR (NYSE: EDR) and American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC), only own a small fraction of the market.

"So, for us, it's all about going into the markets and still continuing to gain market share," he said. "It's a long way to go, and it's a fragmented industry. There are a lot of regional players and mom-and-pop players out there, which creates an excellent opportunity for a company like ours and others in the sector."

Additionally, Rollins said states are facing financial pressures, given the decrease in their budgets. That creates another opportunity for companies like Campus Crest provide a supplemental source of capital for the schools."

Rollins also noted that Campus Crest was recently honored for its sustainability efforts.

"We always had a corporate stewardship focus," he said. "I think if you're a thoughtful leader, you're going to do that in your business. We're proud to get that award."