BY LONDON MACKALL
Home may be where the heart is, and when it comes to looking for houses in the Salisbury area, Salisbury University Housing Ambassadors are using their brains to help students find off-campus housing.
One of the biggest challenges that students face in college is finding off-campus housing, SU Housing Ambassadors co-founder Pax Howard said. SU Housing Ambassadors is a student-run limited liability company (LLC) that determines the type of houses students are looking for and works with landlords and property managers around Salisbury to find houses that fit students’ criteria. SU Housing Ambassadors also sets up meetings between students and prospective landlords and organizes times when students can view the property.
SU Housing Ambassadors provides these services to students for free. “We’re creating an easier process,” Howard said. “You know exactly what you should expect and there’s nothing ‘behind the scenes’ happening because we’re with you through the whole process.”
SU Housing Ambassadors was created when real estate investor Brandon Brittingham challenged Pax Howard, Jay Doaty and Luke Yeagle, his interns to find an issue in Salisbury and work to solve it. The students eventually co-founded the company.
“[Brittingham] was an entrepreneur himself,” Howard said. “He wanted to pass that on and show us the advantages.”
SU Housing Ambassadors also often encourage students to stay in Salisbury after graduation through a process called rent-to-buy. Rent-to-buy helps students understand the advantages and disadvantages of renting and buying property, Howard said. It also gives students better rates for planning ahead.
Along with planning for the future, living off-campus may also make students appreciate the different aspects of the city.
“You get to be more involved in the Salisbury community,” Ambassador Nick Patterson said. “There are a lot of great local people that come from a wide variety of backgrounds. You’ll be able to meet people that you might not have known existed if you didn’t live there.”
Some students have noticed that renting a house off-campus gives one a feeling of power and freedom.
“When you get off-campus housing you sign a lease and you pay rent,” Howard said. “At that point in time that’s your property and that’s a very powerful feeling. I think that’s something that every student should experience before they leave Salisbury.”
While living off-campus may have its advantages, some think that there are challenges when students live off-campus. These challenges can range from understanding Wicomico County’s various property laws to remembering to pay one’s bills.
“There is that added responsibility [that comes with living off campus], but that’s something that will just grow as life goes on,” Patterson said “It’s good to start that process sooner than later.”
As the time for students to sign housing contracts and leases comes closer, SU Housing Ambassadors are excited to see what the future has in store for their company.
“[SU Housing Ambassadors] takes something that’s so hard and makes it extremely simple and [students] gain knowledge along the way,” Patterson said. “It’s something that I really, truly believe will help revolutionize the entire collegiate housing market and I’m proud to be on the forefront of that. Most importantly, I’m proud that we’re able to help students throughout the process and into a home that they can say that they love.”