Andrew Layton headshot

Acquisitions Movements and Trends in Student Housing

Insights from Chief Acquisitions Officer, Andrew Layton

In the dynamic world of student housing, strategic acquisitions and market trends play a pivotal role in achieving success. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Andrew Layton, the Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) of Student Quarters (SQ), to chat about his insights on these crucial aspects of the industry. With a wealth of experience and a passion for the field, Andrew provided us with valuable perspectives on his role, current acquisition trends, and the importance of taking risks. Join us as we delve into the mind of this remarkable leader and gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics shaping the student housing sector.

Andrew Layton – A Dynamic Leader:

Before we take the full plunge, let’s take a moment to get to know Andrew Layton. Andrew is not just our CAO, but a multi-faceted leader with an adventurous spirit. Many people outside of work know him as “ATrain” – a sports and pop culture junkie, wine arbitrage, and a person who once repelled down a 10-story waterfall. He has an interesting background, having started a company to trade soccer cards in the UK before pursuing law and business. With his unique skill set and infectious energy, Andrew brings a friendly spirit and knowledgeable approach to his role as our CAO at Student Quarters.

Why Student Housing?:

When we asked Andrew why he chose to get into student housing, he shared an interesting story. It all began in 2008 when he joined another firm as the head of acquisitions. He spent the first five years of his career building the largest privately owned asset portfolio in the industry. Andrew met Andy Feinour (CEO of Student Quarters) in 2012 when Feinour was running Carter USA’s student housing platform. Layton’s team at Kayne Anderson were looking to pre-buy Feinour’s deals at Alabama and Ole Miss. Their connection and partnership during this time eventually led to the establishment of Student Quarters. 

Imagine this – It’s midnight on a Tuesday in 2013. Just two guys who traded their suits for sweats, mega coffee cups in hand, and talking to investors well into the wee morning hours to bring us Student Quarters as we know it today.

The Joy of Leading the Acquisition Team:

As the leader of our acquisition team, Andrew feels incredibly blessed to work with energetic, talented, and smart individuals. He lovingly refers to the team as the “truffle hounds” – a bunch of deal junkies fueled by their collective passion to find the best deals. The acquisitions SQuad loves chasing and winning deals, and their determination is second to none. However, Andrew acknowledges that one of the challenges lies in getting capital partners to see what they see. It requires being not just experts for partners, lenders, and investors, but also having the personality and the ability to educate others effectively. Their team’s focus on attention to detail is unrivaled, and their reputation for strategizing, bonding, and being socially adept sets them apart in the industry. They are constantly on the road, visiting properties, and talking to competitors to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every asset in the market. It’s a love-hate relationship with travel until their boots are on the ground, exploring different markets and seeing assets. During 2020 and 2021, Andrew took his family along for what his son lovingly referred to as their “white van adventures.” They visited owned assets as well as scouted new deals together. By getting his sons involved, Andrew was able to build an incredible bonding experience for his family and show them more of the country than just their dad’s t-shirt collection.

Acquisition Trends: Past and Future:

Reflecting on the past year, Andrew shared that transaction volume hit a low point in the last quarter, with deals falling through in the capital and debt markets. However, he assured us that things are starting to pick up, and they’re working hard to get stuff moving. As the market slowly climbs toward stabilization, Student Quarters is determined to lead the pack. Andrew emphasized the importance of relationships in finding and winning deals. Deals are there, but getting them done requires a lot more effort than it once did. The market has become easier, but also more competitive. The key is to find good partners who trust Andrew’s team – that’s their leg up over competitors. Andrew cites confidence in the team, with their unwavering dedication and focus, they will not only survive but thrive in the evolving market landscape. Looking ahead, Andrew expects the acquisition trends to stabilize, thanks to our rockstar capital markets team and their deep understanding of deals and markets. With his signature optimism, he declared, “I am optimistic!” – and we can’t help but share in his positive outlook.

The Most Influential Advice and Cultivating Success:

When we asked Andrew about the most influential advice he has received, he shared a two-fold lesson. Firstly, it’s not about failing; it’s about getting up and being resilient. He learned from his late father that failure is inevitable, but it’s how you bounce back that matters. Secondly, he emphasized the importance of taking risks. If you’re not winning deals, then you’re not taking enough risks. While there may be deals that don’t work out, Andrew believes that taking big risks is the key to success. As he eloquently put it, “You get nowhere by being predictable.” 

Our interview with Andrew Layton, our energetic and adventure-loving CAO, provided us with valuable insights into the world of acquisition movement and trends in the student housing sector. Andrew’s passion for the industry, his belief in taking risks, and his emphasis on building strong relationships resonated with us. As Student Quarters continues to lead the pack and redefine the student housing experience, we are grateful to have Andrew’s leadership and his team of dedicated “truffle hounds” by our side. With a lighthearted and friendly approach, we’re confident that we’ll thrive in the ever-evolving student housing market.