Is your business “Gen Y-proof”? Chances are if you’re still mostly utilizing paper applications, your business is not yet prepared for this new generation of renters. Just a few short years ago we were preparing for this new generation of baby boomers’ babies AKA Generation Y or millennials, now they are here and entering the rental market faster than ever. With an estimated 70 to 80 million strong, your business cannot afford to miss the boat they’re sailing in on; indeed, housing markets’ continued recovery is dependent on the engagement of millennials, according to a recent Harvard study. Gen Y renters have some very specific demands which you better be prepared to meet if you want them to hang around.
Here are a few of the things you will need to earn the business of these 20- and 30-somethings now and in the near future.
Technology. Technology is key and is the way these Gen Y’ers do everything from communicating to paying for goods and services. Brace yourself for a faster pace with quick and concise communication via text messages. Property manager Judy Prince of Silver Spring, MD says, “they text me everything, I have to get used to that.”
Landlords and property managers will indeed need to become accustomed to communicating via text messages as more Gen Y’ers take their communication to their mobile phones and tablets. Some property managers and landlords may prefer to communicate the old-fashioned way, but may risk losing some of this generation who are accustomed to multitasking on their digital devices. A quick text to a landlord or property manager is second nature to them, but some old-school landlords and property managers might be concerned with the inability to maintain a record of such communication. The concern is a valid one, but modern technology has made it possible for Android and iPhone users to print those important texts to keep in your tenant files.
Offering high-speed wi-fi included with the rent in larger apartment buildings or at a central location like a community lounge is a great perk that managers should consider as well.
Mobile-Friendly Website. One of the best places for property managers and landlords to begin would be with their websites which is where most Gen Y’ers will begin. A mobile-friendly website is a must with this crowd and will help to win them over as quickly as any other technology. Millennials use the Internet as their primary choice for home searches, whether buying or renting. Having a site they can access from their mobile phones is a must.
Also, many younger renters will want to make maintenance requests and rental payments online as well. No millennial will want to mail in checks for rent payments to your office or other location. Fast, electronic payments and convenience are a good way to collect fast rent payments from this generation.
Local Amenities Matter. It’s a big mistake to believe these new renters only socialize on the Internet. While they do engage in their share of social media online, there is plenty of socializing happening in the local bars and neighborhood coffee and sandwich shops. The closer your rentals are to shopping, restaurants, bars and other amenities, the better for your business. Apartment building managers who are not in close proximity to these amenities might want to consider bringing them on board, if possible. What’s more, millennials are more focused on walkability than any generation previously, and increasingly look for homes within easy walking distance.
Bring on the Bling. You can impress this generation of renters by modernizing your rentals with the newest and the best upgrades to include everything from lighting to kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Shiny new appliances are a must as well. This is not the shabby-chic generation and they will quickly let you know by moving on to your competition if your properties don’t make the cut. Showing them the bling will get them to show you the money according to a study done by J. Turner Research, where 27 percent of younger renters reported quality as the most important selling point for rental units (22% reported price point) in an analysis of renter choice.
Although Gen Y’ers will not be your only renters, they will be the bulk of them. Don’t assume they want the same things you do, and spend time finding out what will appeal to millennials in your target market.
Tell us how you’ve prepared for this new generation of renters?