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What Millennial Renters Want

Industry Insights

The largest generation in America has strong lifestyle preferences to match its appetite for renting. How can you capture the Millennial market?

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It seems every generation struggles to understand the behavior of the generation that follows, and this disconnect is conspicuously true for millennials today. Indeed, the beliefs and desires of Americans born in the eighties and nineties diverge substantially from preceding generations, leading many to conclude that to comprehend millennials on any meaningful level, you have to be one of them.

That idea may hold some water, but it doesn’t mean those of us hailing from other generations are completely in the dark when it comes to winning over the millennial market. In fact, the opposite is the case, thanks to an abundance of studies and polls recently published about millennials and their living habits. Even if you don’t understand millennials on an existential level, this information can help owners and managers of multifamily properties create communities that appeal to this crucial segment of renters.


Millennial Consumers

Good news for property owners: millennials prefer to rent



To paraphrase, if you’re old enough to remember the days before smartphones but still operate mobile devices like a rock star, you might be a millennial.

Pew defines millennials as people born between 1981 and 1997. With the majority having come of age, graduated college, or entered the housing market during the Great Recession, millennials are often more risk-averse than past generations who benefitted from healthy job prospects and strong investment markets. Many are also saddled with student debt and therefore have less disposable income.

Good news for property owners: millennials prefer to rent


To paraphrase, if you’re old enough to remember the days before smartphones but still operate mobile devices like a rock star, you might be a millennial.

Pew defines millennials as people born between 1981 and 1997. With the majority having come of age, graduated college, or entered the housing market during the Great Recession, millennials are often more risk-averse than past generations who benefitted from healthy job prospects and strong investment markets. Many are also saddled with student debt and therefore have less disposable income.




Millennial Consumers


These factors help explain why so many millennials prefer to rent. One survey found that 44% of non-homeowner millennials aren’t currently interested in owning homes. Some prefer renting because they want the ability to just pack up and leave for a new city, while others have been conditioned to avoid the sometimes risky investment of home ownership. Regardless of the causes, this trend should ensure a healthy future for the multifamily housing industry — at least if owners can compete with mom and dad for amenities!

Millennials are all about urban living — even in the suburbs



Millennials are eschewing traditional suburbs for revitalized urban cores that offer amenities such as nightlife, outdoor activities, and businesses like coffee shops. Millennials are also far more open to public transportation than previous generations, and many don’t even care to own a car.

But if you operate outside of urban centers, there’s still plenty of opportunity to appeal to this generation.


Millennials are all about urban living — even in the suburbs


Millennials are eschewing traditional suburbs for revitalized urban cores that offer amenities such as nightlife, outdoor activities, and businesses like coffee shops. Millennials are also far more open to public transportation than previous generations, and many don’t even care to own a car.

But if you operate outside of urban centers, there’s still plenty of opportunity to appeal to this generation.


Suburban development that increasingly emphasizes environmental consciousness, transit- and pedestrian-friendly streets, a diversity of housing types and other millennial favorite features, is attracting older millennials — along with their higher median incomes when compared with younger millennials. As Nielson puts it, this subset “may be starting families but still want the vibrant feeling of an urban environment.” The result of such a community transformation even has a name: “urban burbs”.

Millennials may prefer experiences over things, but they still need housing. Property managers must show millennials how their communities can help make residents’ ideal lifestyles a reality. Forget pools or game rooms — the best amenity a multihousing community can offer to millennials is a location near public transit and interesting local activities. Property owners and investors who want to capture the millennial market should focus on communities with optimal walkability. And this need not be strictly limited to the coasts; rental markets in cities like Minneapolis and Dallas are gaining momentum as millennials seek to escape the high rents typical of locations like New York and San Francisco.

Leverage the power of the Internet

Leverage Mobile

For millennials, everything happens online (and usually on mobile) first. They message before they meet up, they check review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes before they watch movies, and they consider product ratings before they buy. As we discussed in a previous blog, reviews from social media sites like Facebook, Yelp, and dedicated apartment review sites can have a big impact on millennials’ renting decisions. To attract millennial renters, apartment managers must ensure their online reputations are favorable.

Similarly, apartment owners seeking millennial renters must make everything logistics-related available online. Need a repair? Fill out an online form. Want to pay your rent? Do it online. Millennials don’t want to waste time enduring old-fashioned paper forms and phone calls to do something that could take 30 seconds online.

And speaking of fast: high-speed Internet is a must for this connected crowd!

Millennials Signing Lease

Why apartment owners should care


Why should we care what millennials think? For one thing, they’re now the largest generation in America. Older folks can poke fun at millennials and their avocado toast all they want, but if they want to operate successful businesses, they have no choice but to consider millennial preferences. That’s especially true in the residential property industry, where consumers enjoy a lot of choice when it comes to selecting housing.

Why apartment owners should care


Why should we care what millennials think? For one thing, they’re now the largest generation in America. Older folks can poke fun at millennials and their avocado toast all they want, but if they want to operate successful businesses, they have no choice but to consider millennial preferences. That’s especially true in the residential property industry, where consumers enjoy a lot of choice when it comes to selecting housing.




Millennials Signing Lease

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Millennials are on mobile.

Want to capture and retain today’s largest market of renters? Optimize your property operations with HappyCo mobile inspections, remote monitoring and real-time reporting.

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About the author

Avatar

Jennifer Tyson
VP of Marketing

Jennifer Tyson is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 15 years experience at leading Silicon Valley companies and startups. During a decade at Apple, Jennifer launched three generations of Apple Internet services including the blockbuster iCloud 1.0 launch in 2011. iCloud became the fastest growing Internet service of its time acquiring 45 million users within the first 30 days and over 300 million in less than two years. In December 2015, Jennifer joined HappyCo leading marketing. Jennifer holds an MBA from Dominican University of California and a BA from the University of California Santa Cruz.

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