Every University of South Dakota student has to find a place to live. Whether considering living in dorms, apartments, Greek houses or rental homes, the housing options for students is constantly changing in Vermillion.
Junior Tucker Volesky can thank his roommate, junior Teivaskie Lewin, for finding them a place to live this year.
“We were initially going to rent an apartment, but when that fell through, Teivaskie had his realty connections, and they were able to come up with a house that accommodated our needs,” Volesky said.
Volesky and Lewin — who works for Dakota Realty — did not have a place to call home until just three weeks before coming to school last fall. The search ended up to be short — only one phone call and a quick decision on a 10-month lease decided things.
“We started off last spring doing the search ourselves, and we were looking at numerous different rentals as far as houses, as well as apartments,” Volesky said.
Lewin is not the only USD student who has worked in the realty business.
Sophomore Mariah Larson is working her first year at Premier Real Estate. She pointed out why finding housing right before fall semester can be tricky.
“The busiest time of the year (for searching) is throughout the summer when people are looking for places and especially at the end of the semester when students are going home,” Larson said.
Jessi Wilharm, an agent at Maloney Real Estate, said students can learn from Volesky’s hectic search for a place to live. She encourages students to search early and often.
“Make sure you find out what utilities are,” Wilharm said. “Make sure you ask if there’s abeen problems with water damage. Just be vigilant when you do the walk-through. Look for water stains on the walls and the ceilings. If it’s (a) high efficiency furnace, that makes a big difference, as well as if it’s good windows.”
She said it mostly comes down to curiosity.
“The more questions you ask the person giving the tour, the better off you’re going to be in the end,” Wilharm said.
Both Larson and Wilharm said USD students gives their agencies a fair amount of business.
“A lot of them are students, but it kind of depends,” Larson said.
Vermillion landlord Roger Jeck, though, said he has the university to thank for almost all of his business.
“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” Jeck said. “I wouldn’t be here if (the university wasn’t) here, and (students) wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t here.”
Jeck also said nearly all of his experiences with USD students go well.
“Most kids are pretty stand-up citizens,” he said.
Realtors also target the university faculty.
“When university candidates come to town, we get calls to give them tours of town, especially if they’re looking for a place to buy or a rental for if they do get the job,” Wilharm said. “So we do get a lot (of business) from that. We get a lot from professors that move here.”
Although thankful for the university’s business, Maloney Real Estate capitalizes on other aspects of Vermillion.
“The growth in the area just kind of seemed like a natural fit that another real estate office might benefit the community,” Wilharm said, specifically mentioning new housing developments.
Even with the new developments, there are still challenges for realtors in Vermillion.
“There are always challenges — it’s a small market, so you don’t have a whole lot of selection of one type of housing,” Wilharm said. “There’s not a big discrepancy in what a college student as opposed to a family would be looking for in a rental.”
(Photo: Sophomore Jack Schuver looks through the kitchen while touring an apartment Feb. 2. Nathan Ellenbecker / The Volante)