Breanna Langett doesn’t know if she will be attending graduate school at Binghamton University, but she knows if she signs a lease now at 20 Hawley Street Apartments, she could get a better deal on pricing.
Although the school year has just begun, landlords and apartment management companies are already advertising housing to BU students for the 2019-20 academic year, which is pressuring some students to commit early in order to get the house that they want at a lower price.
Langett, a senior majoring in history, said she’s not in the position to make that commitment yet, but is worried about paying more.
“Hawley said if I don’t renew my lease, my rent will go up,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m staying here after graduation. It sucks about the rates. It’s too early. I don’t know what I’m doing next year.”
Typically, students begin signing leases for off-campus rentals after the University’s Office of Residential Life opens housing sign-ups in November. But in recent years, students have been signing rental agreements earlier and earlier. Last year, Alexandra Abels, a senior majoring in psychology, signed her lease in October.
“I feel like they’re earlier,” Abels said. “I also think it’s because the on-campus sign-ups are so early.”
Despite concerns from student tenants, landlords find it beneficial to have their properties filled up early in the year. Cara Bradley, ‘09, has three properties in Downtown Binghamton. According to Bradley, there is a greater demand for off-campus housing as the University’s student body grows. University President Harvey Stenger has pledged to push the student population to 20,000 by 2020.
“We take pride in all of our properties and believe that advertising early allows us to reach the largest number of students, especially those who are moving off campus for the first time,” Bradley said.
Property owners use a variety of techniques to market their real estate. Bradley said she uses Craigslist and Facebook, but finds the most effective method is word-of-mouth, as underclassmen tend to learn about leasing opportunities from upperclassmen.
“A lot of times, underclassmen who are friends with current students living in our houses end up being new tenants when our current ones graduate,” Bradley said.
While some students said they like knowing where they are going to live in advance, many argue it’s not worth the stress. Shannon Gallo, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said having a spot in advance can be convenient, but also complicated.
“It’s a lot of pressure to put a down payment that quickly,” Gallo said. “I think a lot of it is the landlords want that security, but other than knowing where you’re going to live and getting the stress out of the way, there’s not really any benefit [to signing early].”
Nevertheless, students who wait too long may risk losing out on options. According to Bradley, spots become limited the longer students wait to sign a lease. Stefan Marinkovic, a junior majoring in economics, said he is already feeling stressed about finding housing.
“It’s really difficult because things are already taken up for next year,” Marinkovic said.
Christine DeRosa contributed reporting to this article.