Missionary age change hardly affects off-campus housing

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After The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a change in the required missionary age, BYU students thought the change would radically change the face of Provo student housing.

The age change has had virtually no impact on off-campus housing. Photo by Elliott Miller
The age change has had virtually no impact on off-campus housing. Photo by Elliott Miller

“I expected apartment prices to drop because it’s harder for off-campus apartments to sell contracts,” said Alan Miller, a communication major living south of campus.

To Miller and many other students’ surprise, however, housing prices stayed the same and even rose in some places. Contrary to popular belief, it turns out that many off-campus apartment complexes are not struggling to sell contracts in the wake of the missionary rush.

Jana Naufahu, property manager at King Henry Apartments, said he met with the complex’s owners to discuss how they would handle the expected changes. At the end of the meeting, all they decided to do was change two female units to male units.

“So far, looking at the sold contracts from last year they seem to be the same as this year at this point,” Naufahu said. “It helps that we have a good reputation so a lot of people come by word of mouth.”

Nina Watkins, property manager at The Branbury Apartments, said since the complex is so far from campus, management expected a negative impact contract sales, so they began focusing on social activities to attract residents. Similar to King Henry, The Branbury’s expectations were shattered.

“We feel positive that the leasing season is going better than we’ve ever had,” Watkins said.

Watkins attributed an increase in contract sales to the MTC transformation of Raintree Apartments into additional missionary living quarters. Many displaced Raintree residents moved into nearby apartment complexes, including The Branbury, leading to an increased number of contracts than last year.

“Everything hinges on BYU enrollment,” said Dave Nagel, owner of Belmont Apartments since 1985. “If enrollment goes up then we need more housing.”

Nagel stays above the competitive edge by remodeling each apartment every seven years. He takes pride in the fact that every year, students bring tents and sleeping bags to camp outside Belmont Apartments to increase their chances of getting a contract.

“Belmont is in a unique position, we are always at 100 percent capacity for fall and winter semesters,” Nagel said.

Nagel mentioned that even though he doesn’t agree with several construction projects to build more apartment complexes, he doesn’t know of any off-campus apartment complex that is truly struggling to sell contracts.

Even though many off-campus housing owners and managers feel different reasons contribute to their continuing success, they agree the missionary age change has had little to no impact on their complexes, a reassuring fact in an uncertain time.

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