Analysing student housing markets through evaluation of online advertisements

For those who are interested in German market for micro-living and student housing, we have taken a look into our data to figure out some facts which may improve the understanding of the German student housing market.

Total median rents of shared-flat living offers 2016 (only cities with more than 200 offers, source geodata: GeoBasis-DE/BKG 2015 & OSM)

Identifying tense student markets

The university cities show the highest student demand excess, measured by students per online ads [(students – students in residence halls)/online offers)] , especially in student compatible sub-markets (‘one-room-flats’, ‘shared flats’ and ‘temporary living offers’). In Tübingen and Darmstadt there are more than 25 students for each student compatible residence offer.

Student demand per (online) supply 2016

Shared flats are an essential sub-market

We found out, that the market segment ‘shared flats’ is essential and valuable in context of analysing student housing markets as well as for micro-living issues.

High market shares of ‘shared flat offers’ indicate student markets, as well as markets with high demand for ‘one-room-flats’ and ‘micro-apartments’. Rates for ‘shared flats’ also indicate accepted market rents, their upper percentiles show a critical willingness to pay and their spatial distribution indicates student hotspots. Despite these aspects the segment is hardly under investigation.

In most German student cities, their market share is higher than 20%-30%, up to 70%-80% in Freiburg, Tübingen and Marburg. In the ‘cheap’ markets the share is lower which suggests that rent savings are an important reason for choosing shared accommodation forms.

Market share of ‘shared-flat-offers’ 2016 (market share = number of ‘shared flat offers’ / number of ‘all conventional flats’)

Shared living is not only a lifestyle, this accommodation type is also chosen because of hard facts, namely the opportunity of rent savings and/or poor supply of small and affordable flats. The following chart illustrates average rent savings per month, which can be reached by choosing a ‘shared-flat’ instead of a ‘one-room-flat’. In Munich and Reutlingen median rent savings are higher than 100 Euro per month. Between 60 and 80 Euro can be saved in the university cities Ulm, Darmstadt, Tübingen, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Heilbronn, Erlangen, Gießen and Freiburg im Breisgau.

Rent savings per month by choosing a shared flat room instead of a ‘one-room-flat’ 2016 (unexpected relation depends on different spatial distribution of the evaluated offers. In Rostock most (73%) of ‘shared-flat-offers’ are in located in central district ‘Mitte’ – ‘one-room-flats’ share only 23%)

In markets with high demand excess for ‘one-room-apartments’ many students have to resort to residential communities. Thus, this segment functions as market buffer which links ‘small flats’ / ‘micro-apartments’ and ‘bigger flats’. Therefore, the focus of analysis should not be limited to conventional small residences.

A high demand excess for ‘one-room-flats’ leads to a high demand for shared living accommodations because of possible savings. There is a significant correlation between demand excess in the one-room-sector and possible rent savings by shared living.

Rent savings and demand excess for one-room-flats 2016. (unexpected relation depends on different spatial distribution of the evaluated offers. In Rostock most (73%) of shared flat offers are in located in central district ‘Mitte’ – one-room-flats share only 23%)

While the boundaries between the different student specific sub-markets are unclear, one should pay more attention to the buffer segment ‘shared flats’. In Munich and Stuttgart temporary flat rents are significant higher than the upper rent level (90%) of ‘shared flats’, but in most markets, the rent level is equal (or lower) than rents for ‘shared flats’. The upper rent level of ‘shared flats’ may be a proxy value for the willingness to pay of most students.

Upper rent level for shared flats (90%) and temporary living accommodation (median total rent 2016)

In a comprehensive view, we notice that the student relevant segments are mostly represented by ‘shared flats’. ‘Temporary living accommodation’ is relevant in the Top 7 (Munich > 40%, Stuttgart > 30%) but even in the big labour markets (Wolfsburg > 30%, Ingolstadt > 20% ).

market share of different student accommodation offers 2016 (market share = n of relevant offers / n of conventional offers)

The quantity of ‘shared flats’ and their linking character to the other segments shows, that shared flats are an essential sub-market in analysing student housing markets and conventional residential markets.

It is a challenge to identify this special advertisements on the online market places, but as reward you gain a better market insight into the student sector and a cleaner observation in the conventional market.  If ‘shared-flat-offers’ are excluded of student housing analysis, a big part of it is not under observation. If ‘shared-flat-offers’ are not eliminated of conventional market rent observations, this leads to a statistical bias – due to community living spaces in the ‘shared flats’, which are not listed in the advertisements, but surely are an element of their rent.


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1. Places in residential halls and number of students (, Deutsches Studentenwerk, Wohnraum für Studierende; Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung, Berechnungen, Data licence Germany – attribution – Version 2.0)

2. All other data: empirica-systems Market-Data-Base

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