Buying into college-town real estate

Consider lease-option among soft-market strategies

National surveys attempting to determine the best places to live continue to include several college towns. The small-town environment is attractive for its slower pace and the athletic facilities and educational programs. College towns also remind many aging baby boomers of the places where they grew up or received their education and where they would ultimately like to return.

For example, two couples my wife and I have known for years have recently purchased a home near Western Washington University in Bellingham. When I inquired if the homes were going to be college rental investments, both couples said they plan to make the homes their primary residences.

One couple who wanted to be closer to two grown daughters had signed up to do volunteer work in the Bellingham area. The other couple planned to use the home as a jumping-off point for boating in the San Juan Islands and Queen Charlotte Straight.