Student housing contracts hard to sell late in semester

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    By TAMI OLSEN

    The first week of the semester is over. Most students have purchased their books, finalized their schedules and settled into routine. But some students still don’t have places to live — and some have too many.

    Naiomi Yamamoto, 27, a junior from Saga, Japan, majoring in psychology, has been trying to sell her apartment contract since November but has not had any luck. She has posted ads with the Housing Office, on the Wilkinson Center bulletin board and other boards and in bathroom stalls around campus. She said she still has gotten few responses and doesn’t know if it will sell, even though she has reduced the rent $50 a month.

    “It is so late in the semester and BYU and UVSC have started, so I am worried,” she said.

    Yamamoto will have to keep paying double rent every month if her contract doesn’t sell, she said.

    In December, there were 13 pages of women’s contracts for sale on the BYU housing list. There are now approximately seven pages of contracts for women and two pages for men.

    John Pace, manager of off-campus housing, said the housing office is getting about 10 new entries a day for women’s contracts, seven for men’s and three for family housing.

    Pace said the chances of selling a contract diminish rapidly as the semester progresses. He said the best time for single students to sell their contracts is in December and maybe the first week of January. But in February and March there is almost no chance of selling a singles’ BYU-approved housing contract because people have found places to live.

    Family housing is more available year-round. It is not based on the BYU academic calendar but is part of the community rental market, of which students comprise only a small part.

    Students sell their contracts for a variety of reasons. Senior Christ Curton, 26, a human biology major from Burbank, Calif., decided to move “for a change” when his roommate moved. He posted an ad for his apartment on the Wilkinson Center bulletin board in December. He said response to the ad was great and he was expecting to sell his contract.

    Curton said with one or two people coming to see his apartment every day, he was not concerned about selling his contract.

    “People need a place right away. Half the guys I talked to don’t have a place and are just living with friends,” he said. He said the board in the Wilkinson Center was a very effective place to advertise because many people know it is there and check it regularly.

    BYU Housing’s Internet site is used a lot to check on available housing. Pace said there were 57,000 hits on the listings pages in August, but a lot fewer hits in January. Last year 15,000 people visited the listings.

    The housing site is redesigning its page to make screen selections and reading easier. It is also waiting for equipment to be posted on the Web.

    In addition to the housing site, Pace said updated housing availability lists are printed and available outside 2170 WSC after 9 a.m. every day. There is a call-in hotline updated daily with new contract openings. The hotline number is 378-3440 and is changed by 5:30 p.m.

    Newspaper classified sections also have housing contracts listed, and word of mouth is particularly useful.

    “Tell members of your ward, tell friends,” Pace said.

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