PULLMAN, Wash. – As Washington State University’s executive director of real estate and local relations, Mel Taylor had been fielding calls from Cougar alumni interested in Pullman housing for a year or more. So he asked associate professor of marketing Jeff Joireman to help with a study gauging alumni interest in Palouse dwellings.
WSU alumni aren’t alone in their desire for a collegiate-living experience, Taylor said: “There are data showing that alumni are moving to small university towns across the country.”
Earlier this year, Joireman and Taylor initiated an online study to capture specific information about alumni plans for Palouse living. They wanted to know how many alumni are interested, how many months of the year they would spend in Pullman, what type of housing they preferred and what type of activities they’d pursue.
The online study garnered 1,026 respondents (63 percent male with the majority 40-60 years old).
Based on results, “there’s clearly interest among alumni,” said Joireman. More than half of respondents indicated at least slight interest in living on or near the Pullman campus, either full time or part time, with 28.2 percent indicating they were interested, very interested or extremely interested. More than one-fifth of respondents reported interest in receiving more information about Pullman housing developments.
Of those who expressed interest, most were interested in seasonal Pullman living – on average, 4.6 months of the year. Prospective part-time residents were interested in taking advantage of the university’s recreational, campus involvement and cultural opportunities like sporting events (86.8 percent), fitness classes (66.9 percent) and theater (60.6 percent), along with volunteering, student mentoring and golf.
Housing less than $300,000 was most attractive to study participants. Most respondents indicated that if they did pursue a Pullman home, they’d be ready to buy within five years. When not living in their home-away-from-home, most prospective part-time residents would reside in western Washington while many others would live in eastern or central Washington or elsewhere in the western U.S.
“The consumer appeal appears to be there,” said Taylor. “Although the university is not in the market to develop residential housing, there might be interest in the private sector to explore this potential real-estate development opportunity.
“The appeal of living in a rural community along with symphonies, plays, campus involvement and Division I sports makes for a really attractive option,” he said.
Mel Taylor, WSU executive director of real estate and local relations, 509-335-8738, firstname.lastname@example.org