The countless conversations I had with my daughter in her Junior and Senior years were all for naught when it came time for her to actually “go away” to school. She preferred to stay closer to home than what we originally discussed and acceptance letters, housing deposits etc were all wasted when September 2012 was upon us. If I had purchased a house in the city we had talked for two years about buying I would have been stuck.
As far as being a landlord to college kids – NOT a chance. I can’t see renting to people who I already know don’t have their own resources, very often aren’t working so their money they aren’t earning but receiving as gifts basically. They very often wouldn’t have the wherewithal to use their “gift” money as necessity as rent would require. You might get a deposit and first month’s rent, but then you’ll have to constantly work to get rent the next month. I fear you’ll go through tenants like running water. They also typically have no care/concern for property as they have no vested interest. Their first bout of freedom from mom/dad-all manner of any and everything will be happening in your property, most of which you’ll ultimately be responsible for. One drunken party and one accident and YOU”RE done! I don’t think there is ever adequate enough vetting of college kids. Their parents can be upstanding, responsible, offer to pay you for the entire year and you’ll still have property damage for which they would be unwilling to report to you in a timely or repairable manner. I invite you to visit a dorm during the summer break to see all of the repairs which are done during the “off season”. Then think of all of that as your responsibility.
Now if you have two of your children attending the same school at the same time, that is different. I would buy the house for them (and I’m sure they will have friends couch surfing or actually moving in) but there is no lease there and as quickly as they come, they can go if something isn’t right. Once your children have graduated, you can easily sell your property to the next parent who had the bright idea to buy property in a college town.