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Student accommodation marketplace DigsConnect.com now boasts 1 million listed beds

DigsConnect.com’s chief executive Alexandria Procter. Photo: Supplied

DigsConnect.com’s chief executive Alexandria Procter. Photo: Supplied

Published Feb 17, 2022

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SOUTH Africa’s largest student accommodation marketplace, DigsConnect.com has recently announced that it now boasts more than one million listed beds.

DigsConnect.com was launched in early 2018 and despite challenges brought about by the pandemic, has experienced meteoric growth. Most recently, the start-up entered into an agreement with the world’s largest student accommodation website, Student.com, effectively propelling DigsConnect.com into 30 new markets.

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DigsConnect.com’s chief executive Alexandria Procter said in a statement this week that in the most recent season, the company placed nearly 17 times more students than in the season prior, with booking growth at 150 percent week on week.

“When we founded DigsConnect.com, a key motivator for Greg Ramsay-Keal (chief operating officer) and I was a series of targets written on the wall of our small office space. One of these goals was to reach one million beds on the platform by 2028. To have achieved this monumental number in just four years is incredible, and sets the pace for our future milestones,” Procter said.

DigsConnect is a large student accommodation marketplace on the African continent. It pairs up registered students and young professionals looking for a place to stay, with homeowners who are looking to rent out their properties on a long-term basis across South Africa.

DigsConnect.com said its main priority was safety and security for their community, hence they made every effort to personally verify their users so that it could create a safe place for students and young adults to find and book a room in a digs (shared housing), and to help the landlord seamlessly find and manage student tenants in their properties

Procter said that the past two years had been tough to navigate.

“When Covid hit in March 2020, we had 80 percent cancellation rates, and in the months that followed universities remained closed and students took to studying from home.

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“We were very lucky to raise funding in mid-2021, which helped to keep our doors open and gave us room to pivot our offering to young adults that weren’t affected by the university closures. Added to this, our partnership with student.com helped us enter different markets, each responding to the pandemic at different stages.”

Procter said that their focus would soon shift to preparation for the European and American peak seasons.

“A diversified geographic representation gives us multiple seasons a year, allowing us to bring in revenue year-round and have continual feedback cycles to continually improve our product, and services.”

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With several strategic placements in the DigsConnect.com product team, Procter said that the firm would be continually improving the overall user experience on the platform.

Last month, FNB commercial property sector strategist John Loos said the Residential Rental Market has had a very weak period in recent years, but was this year expected to see some strengthening.

TPN tenant data showed that the percentage of tenants in good standing with their landlords regarding rental payments has recovered markedly following the 2020 lockdown dip. In addition, more recently, it had started to see signs that the national average rental vacancy rate had possibly peaked and is beginning to move lower.

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TPN’s national average vacancy estimate had declined from a peak 13.31 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to 10.66 percent by the third quarter, and average rental inflation increased mildly to 0.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter after having dipped into moderate negative territory in prior quarters.

Loos said a decline in vacancies would provide some mild support for something of a rental inflation recovery.

Loos said a mild recovery was expected in the residential rental market in 2022, because of their expectation of further moderate interest rate hiking.

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