About a decade ago, when looking for a real estate investment trust (REIT) to put into my stock portfolio, I chose American Campus Communities Inc., an Austin, Texas-based company that specialized in developing and managing student housing.

I enjoyed the REIT dividend and was pleased that the stock held its own through the heart of the recession when the rest of the market tumbled over a cliff like a long line of lemmings.

Otherwise, I really didn’t pay much attention to the student housing sector; then over the past year a couple of items caught my eye. First, toward the end of 2010, Campus Crest Communities Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., a student housing REIT unknown to me at the time, went public, generating net proceeds of $350.6 million.

Then I stumbled upon an interview with a REIT analyst, who, when asked by the interviewer about his favorite companies in the apartment sector, mentioned the two best-known student housing REITs: ACC and Education Realty Trust Inc. of Memphis, Tenn.

Since Campus Crest was new news to me, I decided to give the company a call to see what was up with student housing, which can be defined as off-campus, for-profit housing for college students, or cooperative developments with universities to create student housing on-campus.

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