The multifamily housing industry has seen many changes over the past decade, but one of the biggest developments has been the unprecedented growth of renters entering the market. Statistics show that homeownership rates reached a national 50-year low last year with the number of Americans renting apartment homes rising across every age demographic.
While this trend can offer new opportunities, it’s important to recognize the challenges that a spectrum-wide increase in renters can pose for your business. The market is growing more and more multi-generational, and your ability to meet the needs of a variety of renters can make a huge difference in gaining (and retaining) residents. It’s all about finding the point of convergence between three generations of renters - Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen-Z - and while there are dozens of ways that they all differ, there are some key amenities and services that you can offer that appeal to each demographic.
Get Smart with Security
For many Baby Boomers, their main focus is finding security and comfort at home. This generation values a supportive living space, considering the fact that they may be caring for parents, children, or grandchildren. In fact, statistics show that Baby Boomers currently play the role of caregiver more than any other demographic.
Standard safety amenities such as gated entrances and on-site security hold major appeal for the Baby Boomer demographic, but there are also productive ways to provide security features that appeal to younger renters. Incorporating smart home automation into your property with devices such as smoke detectors, alarm systems, and thermostats give safety a hip, 21st century glow, allowing older and younger residents alike to stay connected to the most vital of emergency services—all while keeping their apartment safe and secure from any looming threat. Smart home automation also provides residents with the option to personally monitor and configure their apartment home, providing a cutting-edge functionality that Gen-Z and Millennials will both appreciate.
Stay Connected and Green
As the first generation to grow up in the Digital Age, Millennials often equate convenience with speediness, valuing amenities that keep them constantly connected. Gen-Z is similar, and maybe even more inclined to do this, considering they grew up completely immersed in the convenience of technology. And while you might think having an Internet connection is a unique concern for younger renters, studies and surveys have consistently shown that the rise of smart phones has brought older generations into the mix as well. Today, over three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone, and while a large portion of those users come from the 29-and-under age bracket, 74 percent of Americans ages 50-64 are smartphone owners, and nearly half of those 65-and-older use smartphones.
Aside from bare bones basics such as charging stations and high-speed Wi-Fi, you might also consider providing residents with USB port access, electric vehicle charging stations, and the latest technological amenities, which again, includes smart home automation. Smart-home automation allows the renter to be in control of their apartment’s environment even when they are not at home, which for Millennials and Gen-Z is quite often. Renters can seamlessly control temperature, lighting, security, and more from a single device.
In the age of global warming, conservation is now on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Many have become supportive of stricter environment laws and favor environmentally-friendly policies such as green energy development. As we all well know, beliefs translate into lifestyle, and it’s clear that renters value environmentally-friendly amenities in their living space. Features can be as complex as adding solar panels to your rooftop or as simple as introducing a recycling and/or composting program into your community’s practices. Even energy-efficient appliances, low-flow toilets, and LED lighting can be a major selling point.
Offer Digital Resources
Aside from establishing an amiable and modern environment for your residents, what is the most vital tool for gaining leads and increasing retention rates in your apartment community? Surveys show that the newer generation of renters aren’t just looking at your location, price, or in-person tours. For today’s consumer, your website is one of the most critical aspects of your marketing campaign.
Obviously, websites allow prospective residents to find important information they may need about your property. However, as technology continues to advance, you need to go beyond a one-dimensional marketing website to attract leads and keep pace with the demands of today’s renters. Using in-depth and engaging online services such as a resident portal, you can offer residents the ability to communicate with your property instantaneously.
Resident portals allow renters to create service requests, make payments, and renew leases, providing them with everything they need in a simple and comprehensive web platform. Digital tools such as these have been become essential as more and more people access the Internet from their mobile devices.
While it’s vital to set up a marketing website with a functional resident portal, it’s also important to offer several methods of communication to your prospects and residents. In the age of social media, residents across multiple demographics expect to connect with your instantaneously. When it comes to social media, your Facebook profile has the power to bridge the gap between all three generations. While it isn’t a surprise to find the younger demographics engaging online, Baby Boomers are just as reachable through social media. According to a 2017 survey, over 80 percent of Baby Boomers belong to at least one social media site with the overwhelming majority using Facebook.
Social media gives you a space where you can connect with your residents in an amiable and sociable way. While it’s important to maintain as a customer service tool, you can also utilize your profile to highlight your best features and bring your community closer together. Sharing posts with helpful information, showcasing community activities, and inviting residents to organized neighborhood events will create a welcoming and supportive atmosphere throughout your property— one that Baby Boomers will appreciate as much as their Gen-Z neighbors and the Millennials next door.
As the rental market grows, your business can meet the diverse demands of renters by providing amenities that serve their common needs. With features and services that cater to a range of renters, your community will attract more prospects, which will increase rental capacity and ROI.