Student housing raises questions about the housing market.
By: Robert Farley, sociology major, University of Mississippi
Construction has been a constant sight along Old Taylor Road in Oxford over the past three years. Two new housing complexes were completed in that time, and two more are currently under construction.
“People are buying for their sons and daughters, then are renting out the spare rooms to their friends to pay their house note, and about half of them are being used for game weekends and for weekend trips to Oxford,” said Mike McGraw of University Construction.
McGraw’s company is currently building Brighton Village, one of the new developments along Old Taylor Road. It will include 76 new condos, a pool house and a resort style pool with a waterfall.
While McGraw is confident there is a need for new housing, other real estate professionals in town are not as sure.
“The current market seems to be overbuilt. Several owners are trying to sell their homes for what would normally be a reasonable price, but the market is not supporting the prices owners would like to receive,” said real estate agent Paul Lavender.
“I’d say a safe estimate would be that home prices have dropped anywhere from 3 to 5 percent in the past five years.”
Lavender is not alone in his concern over an overcrowded market.
“New construction wouldn’t be ideal. There will likely be crowding and traffic issues that would have to be addressed first,” said longtime Oxford real estate manager Dean Ott.
Ott says the local housing market is very dependent on the University of Mississippi.
“Largely, it will depend on the growth of the university. Our industry/ business growth plays a smaller role.”
Lavender hopes developers will show some restraint.
“I would like to see housing prices recover along with the condominiums we have now being occupied. We don’t want to stay in a situation where we have too much supply and houses are constantly staying vacant.”
While the market still has to rebound from the crash in 2008, according to RealEstate.com, many Realtors are optimistic that housing is primed for a comeback.
McGraw does admit that there is always hesitation when building more housing, but he and his partners are confident.
“We definitely think that Oxford can support it. We have already pre-sold 17 of the 76 units and we just broke ground about 3 weeks ago. Any developer will tell you there is always some hesitation when building a new development, but we are not losing any sleep over it right now.”