Real estate agents said more parents are opting to buy their children a home in college towns rather than pay rent for an apartment or dormitory fees, according to a survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate. Of the 425 real estate professionals questioned in markets home to major colleges or universities, 64% said they saw a significant number of "parent investors" buying homes for their college-age children. College towns have maintained some activity despite the downturn in the economy. Nearly two-thirds of the real estate agents said a significant number of investors are buying homes near campus and renting them out. "Long-term investors take advantage of the steady stream of renters, including students, professors and university officials," Coldwell CEO Jim Gillespie said. "Parent investors buy homes for their child to live in while attending college. Roommates provide rental income for the mortgage, and the hope is that students care for the home and it appreciates over time." (Click on graphs to expand.) According to the survey, the most affordable college town is Muncie, Ind., home of Ball State University. The average home listing price was $105,115, according to Coldwell. Palo Alto, Calif., home to Stanford University, is the most expensive college town with the average home price nearly $1.4 million. "Towns that are home to major universities have a special vibe you just don’t find anywhere else," Coldwell CEO Jim Gillespie said. Write to Jon Prior.