With new on- and off-campus living options for students – such as The University of Oklahoma’s new residential colleges Dunham and Headington, as well as the construction of Callaway House Apartments – the rental market in Norman is becoming more competitive.
The newest additions are all slated to open their doors just in time for the 2017-2018 school year.
“So much is going to happen in August and September and it’s going to be a completely new ballgame and that’s how we all adapt. That’s what keeps us all on our toes,” said Joey Dunlap, assistant community manager of leasing at Campus Lodge, an apartment complex near campus.
Dunlap said Campus Lodge is about 95 percent occupied with 730 out of the 768 placements filled. In comparison, Dunham and Headington College are sitting at an occupancy rate of about 92 percent.
Dunlap, 24, attributes Campus Lodge’s high occupancy rate to past marketing campaigns – including two free months of rent upon signing – and a strong social media presence.
Other off-campus apartments use incentives that offer signing bonuses.
Newly built Callaway House apartments, which is just steps from campus, Millennium, The Avenue, 2900 Student Apartments and Campus Lodge, all advertise a signing bonus in hundreds of dollars in gift cards or a lower monthly rate. The Vue advertises six-month flex leases.
In the past, apartment complexes and other off-campus living options have immersed their brand into campus life by participating in the annual Housing Fair in the Student Union.
OU’s Campus Activities Council, or CAC, has been responsible for putting together the Housing Fair and many other events during the school year.
Vice Chairman Evan Rabb, 20, said, “CAC is the largest student programming organization on campus. Local businesses are aware and want to be involved.”
Rabb, who is former film series chair and a junior double majoring in marketing and management, said The Reserve on Stinson apartment complex was the exclusive sponsor for the film festival that CAC hosted. It also sponsored other events throughout the year, such as free weekend movies.
On Fridays, before the film showing, a commercial from The Reserve would play. About 300 people attend each of the three showings, with potentially 1,000 people exposed to the Reserve.
Although CAC is allocated a significant amount of money from the Student Government Association, a majority of its expenses are made possible from different sponsorships, such as the Housing Fair. CAC is only able to use the money given to it by the SGA for internal purposes, such as having an on-campus cafeteria cater one of its events.
Dunlap of Campus Lodge said the fair isn’t the “bread and butter” of its marketing strategies.
“Ultimately if somebody is looking for the off-campus student experience they’re not just going to stand around and wait for it. It comes to a point that if you want it, come and get it. It’s here,” Dunlap said.