I'm a little late to answer but here's my suggestion. As Marcy pointed out, the best student rentals are condos or townhouses. They're priced lower that single-family homes so the rent is closer to the mortgage - lower burn rate!
I'm assuming your interested in something close to Stanford University. In that case, you'll want to look in the area near California Avenue in Palo Alto. There are a lot of smaller homes and mltli-unit housing there. Price and proximity make that area very popular.
You'll also want to take a look at East Palo Alto. A lot of Stanford professors and students have purchased or rented nice homes there for a fraction of the price of Palo Alto. Close by is also the "East of 101" section of Menlo Park. That area is also very affordable and a popular area to buyer rental property. I've represented buyers and sellers in those areas.
I'd be happy to narrow the search down for you more. Though you're out of the area, a combination of reports, virtual tours, and Google Maps/Streetview will give you plenty of perspective to make a smart purchase decision. Once you've narrowed down a few neighborhoods and homes, your relatives could see them in person to make a final decision.
I agree. Looking at the comparable properties currently active and recently sold in that area, the property is in the neighborhood of other listings in the area. Note that it needs a little work to make it sparkle. It might work for graduate student rental, but it's a long shot. It is relatively far from Stanford (which would supply the logical rental clients) and graduate students(unlike undergraduates) don't generally go home for the summer. By the way, the property has gone into escrow, although it is still being shown.
This home was just listed on Monday and by the numbers is not overpriced for the neighborhood. It feeds into Menlo Park schools and many of the nearby comps on Redfin are not inthe MP school district so they will not sell as high. In my opinon there is np scenerio where this would work as a student rental. Here is why: The only school that is close by is Stanford. Stanford provides housing for all of its undergrad students so they are out of the picture. Also, Suburban Park is about as far away as you can get from Stanford and still be in Menlo Park. The undergrads are not loking for rentals, so the population looking are generally grad students and post docs and they are looking for year round rentals, not school year. Another problem is that in this part of the world land is more valuable than structures so what you are paying for in this house is more for the lot than the home. If you are going to buy a rental you would be better off buying something with more bedrooms and a smaller lot. Condos and townhomes are a more popular choice for rental properties in this area because you get more rentable area per dollar spent than in a single family home. A duplex or tri-plex is also more popular for the same reason. So if you want to purchase a rental property in the area I would advise looking in the Sharon Park area which is close to campus or in Redwood City where prices are less.