Thinking of buying an investment property? This article was published in the St. Catharines Standard last week while I was away and I just wanted you to be aware if looking at this as an option now or in the future.
The Salisbury Team has listed and sold investment properties over the years (especially around Brock University) so should you have any questions or comments regarding this article or on being a landlord, please feel free to comment.
We presently have 340 Glenridge Avenue listed for sale. Click here to see the home and all its details.
The Salisbury Team
Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre Inc., Brokerage
Toll Free – 1-800-467-8498
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Andrew Marshall, a first-year Brock University communications student, takes a break from painting in his new digs in Thorold. Bob Tymczyszyn “One of the major things oversupply does is there’s no reason for a student to feel pressured to take the first place they see,” says Brad Clarke, Brock University’s manager of student/community outreach, shown in front of the school’s DeCew residence.
Home sweet home…More options for Brock University and Niagara College students living off campus
Posted By Samantha Craggs
With two weeks to spare and a $500 budget, Andrew Marshall has found the perfect room.
It is 300 square feet and L-shaped, giving the illusion of two rooms. It is clean, comfortable and in the home of a young landscaper Marshall got along with immediately. It comes with Internet access, satellite TV, air conditioning, a parking spot and, most importantly, solitude on demand.
“I’m thinking I could put the bed over here,” explained Marshall, 21, standing in his new basement digs on Devine Crescent in Thorold this week. “Over there I might put a couch.”
Marshall found his new home on three tries, without scouring bulletin boards or finding For Rent signs. Using a new Off Campus Living Program website run by Brock University and Niagara College, he merely posted an ad saying he needed a place to live. In the first week, he received 30 e-mails and 20 phone calls.
Marshall, a first-year Brock communications student, has heard horror stories. He has friends who are crammed into houses of six students or more, fractious households where roommates unexpectedly unplug the refrigerator or leave dirty dishes everywhere. An only child who has two rooms at his parents’ Burlington home — one for him, one for his music equipment — his priority was space.
He hasn’t met two of his three future roommates, he said. But even if there is drama, he can retreat to a spacious room.
“If you’re going to be stuck in a tiny room,” he said, “it’ll drive you nuts.”
These days, student housing is a buyer’s market. Slowly fading is the era when students, in the late August crunch, were forced to live in fire
traps or dank, windowless bedrooms.
The website for the two schools shows 90 landlords vying for 40 student tenants. In the past year alone, the number of landlords advertising to Brock students has doubled, said Brad Clarke, Brock’s manager of student/ community outreach.
By orientation week last year, he said, there were nearly 400 places still available for student renters.
“It means there’s lots to choose from,” Clarke said. “One of the major things oversupply does is there’s no reason for a student to feel pressured to take the first place they see. They can keep on looking and find the perfect place for them.”
That has not always been the case. Clarke, who was president of the Brock University Students’ Union in 1999, remembers when the search was more frantic, and less attention was paid to the conditions in which students were living. But in the last five years, resources have slipped into place.
The creation of Brock’s off-campus housing office in 2003 provided students with a listing service and the Community Connections program, which gets students involved on campus and in the greater community. A volunteer “welcome wagon” will again visit high-density student areas in September, Clarke said, delivering information about municipal services and campus programs.
St. Catharines has established a student liaison committee, and Thorold has a similar Town and Gown committee. Thorold staff is drafting a licensing bylaw, to be presented to city council in September, that will treat student housing landlords like businesses, with similar accountability and annual compliance checks.
Jeff Menard, Thorold’s chief building official, heard enough complaints from upset parents to know something needed to change.
“We’ve seen bedrooms that were basically a furnace room,” Menard said. “A lot of times it’s the parent that calls. They rented the place without seeing it, over the Internet or over the phone, and came to drop their son or daughter off and saw they were living in a room the size of a closet.”
Brigitte Chiki, Niagara College director of student services, has heard of students living in homes that didn’t meet fire safety standards, or absentee landlords who wouldn’t fix toilets or leaky ceilings.
The Off Campus Living Program, launched in July, provides students with information on rental scam alerts, the Residential Tenancies Act, fire safety laws and other empowering information. It is one of many recent efforts to alleviate what was at one point a crisis, Chiki said.
“Students often look at the bottom line,” she said. “They want the cheapest place. We worry sometimes. But good things come from crisis, and landlords and students are becoming more knowledgeable.”
The housing search is old hat to Susan Cunningham of Paris, Ont.
She found a suitable home for her 17-year-old daughter, Kellie, in one trip to St. Catharines last week. Cunningham looked at four places, two of them acceptable, and after one afternoon, “I think I’m done now,” she said.
Cunningham wrote Kellie’s profile on the Off Campus Living Program site, describing her as “energetic, well-liked” and “also adorable.” As with Marshall, the landlords flocked to Cunningham.
“This is my third kid, so I’ve seen all kinds of housing along the way,” she said. Her son Brian, for example, had a hot water heater explode and for a time lived in a dining room.
But this search was painless, she said. Kellie, who will study arts and culture at Brock, will have a clean home on a bus route with a handful of older roommates.
“The (Off Campus Living) board works exceptionally well,” Cunningham said. “Now I have to figure out how to take her name off the list.”
Blake Davies, 18, of Hamilton also had a painless search. He’ll live with two roommates on Baxter Crescent in Thorold. The only
question is whether they will enjoy his frequent violin playing.
“I didn’t see any places that were horrible,” said the first-year Brock student “The landlords e-mailed me. I didn’t have to worry about it too much.”
The flush student housing market is likely money-driven, Menard said. Many families are renting out parts of their homes to help pay mortgages.
“Last year, we saw a large number of For Lease or For Rent signs long after the start of school, which is an indicator of a saturated market,” Menard said. “It’s allowing students to be a little more picky and not take that tiny room in the basement.”
But Clarke also sees the friendly market as a sign that Niagara is shifting to welcome its students.
“I truly believe that,” he said. “For all the negative stories we’ve heard, we hear just as many stories from students about the wonderful landlords they have. With as many students as we have from outside the region, it’s important for them to see this as their second home.”
Marshall’s neighbourhood is home to mostly young families, which he prefers to the infamous party neighbourhoods. After juggling work and part-time classes at Brock for the past year, attending full time and living four minutes from the school will be relaxing, he said. And now, he has the space.
“I don’t have any commitments,” he said, “other than school and keeping myself alive.”