As the post-commencement rumble quiets, finances take center stage as many parents and students look at fall college expenses and budget for the inevitable. Continuing education is by no means cheap these days. While housing costs quadrupled at their peak, college tuition skyrocketed tenfold from 1980 to 2010. But there are ways to cut costs. For instance, ordering used books online can save you hundreds. Surfing sites like Craigslist.com for used furniture can help cut up front living expenses.
But, what if we told you there’s a way to save thousands? What if you could take one of the largest college expenses and turn it into a financial gain? Instead of paying for a dorm or renting an apartment, savvy college-bound students and their parents are choosing to invest in real estate with a buy-and-hold strategy.
According to the CollegeBoard statistics, average room and board at a four-year public school is about $7,000 per year and for a private school it’s close to $9,000 per year. That’s roughly $28,000 to $36,000 just to put a roof over Junior’s head and some food on the table. And what’s your financial return? Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Zero.
On the other hand, that $28,000 to $36,000 could go a long way as the down payment on an investment property for Junior and friends to live in. And the returns will be more than financial.
Three Reasons to Invest in Your Child’s College Housing
1. Cut Your College Costs: We see three options when it comes to your child’s living situation at school: 1. dorm or apartment, 2. single-family home or 3. duplex.
We’ve already agreed option one leaves you out at least $28,000 over four years. But, in a hypothetical analysis using our HOLD Property Analysis Worksheet, option two could generate an extra $2,300 cash flow come your student’s next graduation, not to mention nearly $32,000 in appreciation. And option three offers a cash return of almost $6,000 with appreciation of about $40,000. Of course you’ll want to run your own numbers based on your local price points and today’s mortgage interest rates, which are much more favorable than the 30-year average used.
This is a hypothetical analysis based on a 30-year median single-family home price of $170,000 and a duplex price of $210,000. It also uses a 20-year median interest rate of 6.94% and a historical appreciation rate of 4.4%.
Our colleague Danny Thompson bought a duplex for $190,000 just a year ago for his two college-age daughters. The girls live in one side, while a young couple in graduate school occupy the other. The property’s monthly mortgage payment is $1,218, and the couple in side two pay $1,050 a month. That leaves the sisters only paying $168 a month! And, if Danny wanted to convert his savings to earnings, he could charge one of the girl’s friends to live in the spare third bedroom and cash flow immediately. Not to mention in year one the property’s fair market value has increased $20,000 to $210,000.
2. Write It Off: If some spending money and a four-year financial return between $3,660 and $8,133 doesn’t quite do it for you, remember the investment can also be a valuable tax write-off on several fronts. Landlords are given several opportunities to write off investment property expenses. Some of these include mortgage interest, some insurance premiums, property taxes, property depreciation, property management costs, settlement costs in year one and maintenance and repairs.
3. Continuing Education Times Two: What if at the end of four years your child already had a great line of credit, knew how to maintain a household and understood how to build wealth through real estate along with an academic degree? Going through the HOLD journey with your student could be the most rewarding reason of any to invest in your child’s college housing. Not only will you save thousands, but you will also instill life lessons that most of us never learned in college.
Of course one of the biggest advantages to investing in your child’s college housing is when it’s all over, you still have an asset. So even though you can opt to sell once the chick has flown the coup, you can also keep the investment and continue to cash flow it while other students pay down your mortgage and build your wealth. And why not stay on the wealth-building journey that you started four years ago? And, if you’re really feeling gracious, what better graduation present could you imagine?