Student Housing Business

MAY-JUN 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

Issue link: https://studenthousingbusiness.epubxp.com/i/992756

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 85 of 88

STUDENT OPINION StudentHousingBusiness.com May/June 2018 85 Seeing Both Sides An A&M student goes from resident to leasing assistant. By Buster Wologo A As a senior in high school I took a trip to College Station, Texas, to visit a friend who was attending Texas A&M University. This was only my second visit to College Station, even though I had already committed to move there and attend A&M. At that point, I didn't have my housing situation planned for the fall, and to be honest, I didn't even know where to start. As I pulled into town, I stopped at a red light and in front of me sat a very large, new, attractive looking apartment complex called Northpoint Crossing. Nothing else in town looked like it, so I took a picture of it and sent it to my dad with the caption "I know where I'm living next year." I sent it as a joke, because I had no information about it, and didn't even know where to start looking. As much as I liked Northpoint, I had to do research on all of the possibilities in the mar- ket to make sure I was making a wise deci- sion. Every property had awesome pools, club- houses, resident events, and I got a lot of free t-shirts and gift cards while touring. However, none of those things were going to impress my parents. The factors that truly make a place great to live are things such as location, price, surrounding neighborhood, quality of man- agement, and ease of living. Many of those fac- tors can't be seen during a 30-minute tour, but I trusted the leasing agent assisting me, who was also a resident. He gave me insight from his experience and was honest about his opin- ion of the property. After a discussion with my parents, I decided to sign a lease for the fall of my freshman year. I truly enjoyed my time at Northpoint Crossing as a resident and decided to renew my lease for the next year. My basis for this decision was the convenience of living there. Getting to class could not have been easier considering there is an campus bus that picks up at the building, and it is across the street from campus so walking is always an option. I felt safe living there because there were two College Station police officers that lived on the property, and there was more than enough parking with three secured garages. The surrounding area was nice with a lot of new development, and over a dozen res- taurants within walking distance. The retail at the property started to fill up and Century Square was built next door. I used almost no cell phone data because there is reliable wifi at the property, and as soon as I was off of the property I was almost immediately connected to Texas A&M wifi. My apartment was comfortable and felt more like a home than a college dorm room. I had a two-story apart- ment overlook- ing the pool, and it was a fun place to have my friends hang out, especially when they were usually stuck in a dorm. There were around 1,800 resi- dents, so I ended up having a lot of friends who lived there, and it was nice to have your friends be your neigh- bors. My parents loved that they never had to worry about any issues or payments because they were able to pay the same amount each month automatically online. My parents and I thought it was pretty clear that I should renew for my second year, because Northpoint met both of our qualifications: it is the per- fect balance of fun and functionality. It not only had the pools, concerts, clubhouse, but it also offered stress-free living and gave me no excuse to ever miss a class. After I renewed my lease, I decided to apply to be a leasing agent at Northpoint. I wanted the job so I could be part of the team that made everything I mentioned before possible. I received an offer and spent the next two years working as part of the team. I learned and grew a lot and had many great experiences as a student worker, but a unique aspect was being able to be a recipient of the work I was doing. It is an interesting dynamic because I had always thought working where you live would encourage laziness because of the com- fortable environment, but it had the opposite effect. What I witnessed was that student workers who lived onsite would work harder and more diligently because they took pride in where they lived and worked. I remember count- less times when residents would come to me while I would be off work and ask for help with something. The residents knew us as both their neighbors and staff members who were willing to help, which encouraged us to work harder because we knew we were serving our neighbors. It was not a feeling of pressure, but more a sense of encouragement and purpose. As a resident and an employee, I was able to gain insight on certain things that manage- ment could not always see, like what it is was that students really want from their housing. Touring and talking to countless students and parents, I began to see trends about what made students want to sign leases at certain places. It was usually not the gift cards, t-shirts, or free coolers that would sway a lease decision. It was the convenience and worry-free life- style that attracted both students and parents, as well as the infrastructure of the commu- nity, that truly made people want to live at Northpoint. Big drivers were the ease of access to cam- pus, the high quality wifi that covered all of the property, the proximity to grocery stores, and the idea that they could live there without a car. I am not saying all students want the exact same thing, but at the end of the day, people realize that a pool can only be used a few weeks out of the school year, and sleeping in is way easier than finding a parking spot on campus. I loved using all of the amenities that Northpoint Crossing offered as a resident, and I made sure to point these out to prospective residents on every tour. I noticed that families who came to tour valued my opinion as a student at Texas A&M and as a resident at Northpoint Crossing, and would listen to the advice I gave them about college living in general. A lot of people come to college in the same position I did — with no idea how anything works — and are looking for somebody to give them advice. Of all the property tours I went on when just before my freshman year, my initial tour with Northpoint was the only one where someone gave me advice versus just information. Managers should seek to create an environ- ment where staff members are also residents and have a mindset of serving their current or future neighbors. When there is a strong sense of camaraderie, people are attracted to it. Anyone has the capability to list prices and amenities, but nobody is able to deny your personal experience living at the property. A balance between fun and function make a good property, and if a developer can make that possible, prospective residents will hear positive experiences about the property from their resident leasing agent and be more likely to sign a lease. Buster Wologo is an Urban Planning Major at Texas A&M University. BUSTER WOLOGO Texas A&M University

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Student Housing Business - MAY-JUN 2018