Homeownership is on the decline for the millennial generation, with most of them choosing to rent apartments rather than buy homes. A report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that millennials are putting off buying homes for several reasons, including college debt. But more than financial reasons, many millennials simply prefer the convenience that renting affords them over the responsibilities of home ownership. And they don’t seem to plan on trading apartment living for homeownership anytime soon.
Who are the millennials?
Millennials are individuals born roughly between late 70s / early 80s and early 2000s, and account for 83 million people according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released in June 2015. Millennials are coming of age during uncertain economic times and emerging into a finicky job market with the burden of student debt. Millennials are also known for being familiar with technology and concerned about socio-political issues, among other characteristics. And while many millennials remain single well into their thirties, there is a growing percentage of them who are getting married and starting families at this stage of life.
What does all this mean for property managers?
Given this renting trend, getting millennials to rent may not be difficult, but properties have to rise to the challenge in order to set themselves apart from the competition.
If you want to attract potential tenants amongst the millions of millennials, you’ll need to make sure your property offers the amenities they are looking for:
- Location. Although millennials prefer a variety of living locations, from a quiet suburb to an up-and-coming urban core, it’s important to emphasize the very best attributes of your location.
- Sense of Community. Just like homeowners, renters want to feel they belong, that they know their neighbors by name, and that the property staff supports them.
- A touch of luxury. This generation is particularly attracted to beautiful entryways, trendy décor in common areas, and an active and hip social environment.
- Pet-friendly facilities. Approximately 76% of millennials own a dog or a cat. Being a pet-friendly community will ensure you don’t eliminate the vast majority of renters.
- Bike storage. The average millennial drove 23% less in 2009 than in 2001, according to Appfolio.com, and it’s a number that seems to be increasing. So, lack of secure bike storage at the property could be a deal-breaker.
- Updated kitchen. Preparing meals at home has become increasingly popular among millennials. These renters look for kitchen space that offers a lot of storage, updated appliances, and nice countertops.
- Kid-friendly environment. Many millennials are starting families and look for rentals that will fit their on-the-go lifestyles. They’ll be on the lookout for walking paths, playgrounds, and nearby parks and schools.
- Generosity. If your community regularly donates to charity, and asks for residential involvement (i.e. hosts food and clothing drives), it will likely resonate with millennial renters. They most admire companies that gives back on a regular basis.
- Up-to-date technology. Millennials prefer to conduct transactions, including paying rent, electronically. Some don’t even use a checkbook. Millennials also prefer communicating with property managers through text messaging and email.
- Safety first. Safety is a must for these renters, so seeing that a property is well-lit, has on-site security, controlled-access entry ways, alarm systems in the units, and security cameras around the property is both comforting and preferred.
- All-inclusive amenities. Garden spaces, dog parks, fitness centers that offer more than just a few treadmills, and an attractive pool area are some of the major features that renters look for. Beautiful outdoor spaces around the property definitely top the list for this generation. Also, many properties have started to include cable and internet packages with rent, which is ideal for renters who like to simplify their lives.
- Close proximity to stores and restaurants. While this is a category that you may not be able to control, it is important to know that this generation is motivated by convenience, and that means being able to access grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and nightlife easily. If your property is not in such a location, you may want to see if there are any delivery services that you can team up with for your residents to utilize when they want, say, dinner delivered to their doorstep.
Property management companies and their teams should embrace the millennial generation as the main source of current and future tenants, and keep their preferences in mind as they seek to fill vacancies.
How does your apartment community appeal to millennials? Share your comments below.
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