Property owners and managers of multifamily communities have the important goal of keeping current renters happy and new ones coming in. Over time, both high turnover rates and room vacancies represent money lost. If either or both of those things are happening at a high rate, it may be time to make some updates to the property.
This is particularly true if a property manager is trying to entice that all-important millennial renter demographic.
As the saying goes, “sometimes you have to spend money to make money.” That’s why we’re sharing some renovation ideas (both big and small) that will fit the millennial renter’s wants and needs. Here’s what property owners and managers should keep in mind:
The Shifting Demographics of Millennial Renters
Millennials are currently the largest and most critical renting demographic in the country. Pew Research Center defines millennials as the people born between 1981 and 1997, comprising the largest generation and represent one in three adult Americans. And, having grown up in the era of digitization and rapid globalization, their values, expectations, and socioeconomic status are far different than their predecessors’.
Per My Smart Move:
This is a generation of digital natives and multitaskers. They prioritize flexibility and convenience, and prefer to keep their options open. Millennials value work-life balance, and refuse to sacrifice their health or leisure time, even for higher salaries.
Since they frequently grew up with unstable housing markets and economic instability, both millennial’s ability and desire to purchase a home are far less than Boomers or Gen Xers. Not only do millennials rent more, but a significant number of millennials also say that they want to rent forever.
Apartment List’s 2019 Millennial Home Ownership Report shares some interesting findings on this matter:
- 3% of millennial renters say they plan to rent forever—a marked increase from 10.7% the previous year.
- Millennials see both financial and lifestyle benefits to renting, but the largest factor in choosing to rent is lack of affordability in the housing market.
- Millennials would like to own a home, but more than half have no money saved towards a down payment.
As a result, experts believe that the rental market will end up outpacing homeownership. Business Insider writes:
Americans have already begun to lean toward rentals, as softer construction activity and housing shortages price potential buyers out of the market. While lower mortgage rates could pull some in from the sidelines, new tax laws have also reduced incentives for Americans to own homes.
While this increased demand for rentals is a good thing for multifamily property owners and managers, this shift doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
We’ve already seen heavy property investment in response to this demand—multifamily properties that are new, shiny, and filled to the brim with enticing apartment amenities and features. This has created more competition in the rental housing market, making it even harder to differentiate one property from its nearby competitors.
As a result, it’s paramount that property owners and managers renovate and add features like lobby amenities that entice these younger potential residents.
How to Make Updates With Millennial Renters in Mind
There are both communal and individual updates an owner can make to appeal to this younger demographic.
- Modern Security – PerSchlage’s Industry Insight on Millennial renters, “63 percent would move out of an apartment due to lack of security.” Few things can turn a resident off quicker than feeling they’re not safe in their own home, or that anyone could enter the facility. This is why it’s crucial that a multifamily property provides a modern security infrastructure.
Features worth implementing include:
#1 A security team that monitors the premises at all hours.
#2 Fencing surrounding both the apartment and parking structures.
#3 Electronic gates at all entrances.
#4 Security cameras in hallways, entrances, and exits.
#5 Smart security systems such as Ring home security doorbells.
- Plenty of Parking – Parking is important, especially in urban environments. Although it may seem like a small annoyance, over time, lack of parking can become a major problem. From simply arriving at home after a long day to having guests over, residents like the convenience of being able to drive up to their own designated parking spot and head inside, hassle-free.
Even a few minutes wasted every day searching for parking can add up for residents. It’s crucial that property owners and managers create space for a parking structure or partner with a nearby business to, at the very least, provide residents with a place to leave their vehicle.
- Wi-Fi Connectivity – Millennials spend a great deal of time on their phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronics engaging with social media. Whether for work or play, all of these devices require a steady Wi-Fi connection. Few things are more annoying than curling up on the couch on Friday night to watch Netflix, only to find out that the internet isn’t working or the connection speed is slow.
Wi-Fi is not the place where a property manager should cut corners to save money. Instead, they should invest in the best available service that cannot only handle normal traffic but busy periods as well.
- Smart Package Lockers – Today, young people do a considerable amount of their shopping online—whether it be for goods, groceries, or even medicine. This increase in online shopping has created a problem where packages get delivered while the resident isn’t home, making those deliveries vulnerable to any unscrupulous passerby that might want to steal them.
This package influx also creates a problem for property managers who have to spend an increasing amount of time receiving, storing, sorting, and delivering packages.
So how can property managers prevent package theft and management issues for millennial renters?
By installing smart lockers for package delivery and storage, property managers can alleviate package issues for both residents and staff. Package lockers have a number of unique features that appeal to residents, including:
- Modern Security – Lockers have 24/7, cloud-based video surveillance.
- Intelligence – Built-in infrared scanners detect and categorize packages for easy retrieval.
- Innovative Technology – Refrigerated parcel lockers can be installed in order to keep groceries and other perishable items at the ideal temperature.
- Courier Agnostic – Lockers accept deliveries from all courier services. This means 100% deliverability.
- Fast and Easy – Barcode scanner allows for quick and easy package delivery and retrieval.
- Gym – More than previous generations, millennials care about their health and fitness. The problem that many run into is that they’ve precious free time and don’t want to spend it driving to a gym, not to mention having to pay an additional $50-$200 a month for a gym membership. Providing an on-site gym is a convenience that factors into the final rental decision, seeing as it represents both time and money saved.
- In-Unit Washer and Dryer – At the very least, it’s important that a multifamily property has a laundry room on-site. But even that leads to several pain points like having to deal with change, all the washers or dryers being filled up, or residents moving or stealing clothes. Instead, the vast majority of young residents are willing to pay more or sacrifice space if it means having a washer and dryer in their unit.
Residents need to wash and dry clothes many times per week, and they want to do so when they please. In many buildings, renters have specific time slots where they may use the washers and dryers—which may not be in good condition—and this inconvenience makes residents want to move. Laundry can take a lot of their time away, especially if the machines break down. Resident patience with laundry problems is an issue.
This is a simple convenience that could be the difference between a potential resident migrating to another property and remaining at their current property.
- Online Rent Payment – Millennials don’t like to use checks when paying bills. They prefer to pay for things online, “set and forget.” By setting up an online rent payment system, a property manager provides younger residents with added convenience, streamlining operations and simplifying the payment process in one fell swoop.
Appealing to Millennial Renters
With growing competition in the rental market, it’s essential that property owners and managers stay “with the times” and remain in front of rental trends, especially for millennial and Gen Z renters. Smart apartment solutions — like adding smart lockers or digitizing payment systems—can make a world of difference to these younger demographics.
And young renters are not a demographic to miss out on. Remember safety, convenience, and smart technology — this is their way.
Pew Research Center. Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Gen Z Begins. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/
My Smart Move. The Anatomy of the Millennial Renter. https://www.mysmartmove.com/SmartMove/blog/anatomy-millennial-renter-infographic.page
Apartment List. 2019 Millennial Homeownership Report. https://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/2019-millennial-homeownership-report/
Business Insider. Millennials are About to Overtake Baby boomers as the Largest Generation. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/millennials-baby-boomers-largest-adult-generation-alter-housing-market-2019-4-1028075982
PR Newswire. Results of the Schlage’s Industry Insight Survey Reveals What Millennial Renters Want in 2017. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/results-of-schlages-industry-insight-survey-reveals-what-millennial-renters-want-in-2017-300369197.html
Manage Casa. Landlord and Multifamily Laundry Solutions. https://managecasa.com/articles/buy-or-rent-washers-dryers/