The abrupt nationwide shift to remote learning last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic shook the off-campus student housing sector in surprising ways.
In the spring of 2020, as it appeared that many college students would stay grounded in their childhood bedrooms doing coursework online, some landlords panicked and sold off rental properties in prime university markets, fearing high vacancy rates in the next semester. The chaos presented unique opportunities: Investors took advantage of low prices and low mortgage interest rates to scoop up aging properties for renovation or demolition.
At the same time, individual homebuyers looking to get into typically competitive, affluent markets near university research centers saw new deals in places like Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina.
This year is very different, with widespread vaccine availability and the majority of colleges planning to reopen for in-person classes…