As a successful property manager, you have learned that you need to create an ideal tenant avatar, or profile of your ideal tenant. If that ideal tenant was born in the 1980s to the 2000s, you are looking for what society and the media has labeled a “millennial,” or Generation Y. This generation is one of the largest groups of renters today, so it makes sense that if you think your property would be perfect for millennials and that fits your own tenant avatar, you must first figure out how to attract them to your property.
Why Would I Want to Attract Millennials?
Millennials are officially one of the biggest renting demographics out there today and don’t appear to be rushing to home ownership anytime soon. This generation was hit particularly hard by the recession, so thanks to a sluggish job market, huge student loans and a tighter lending/stricter credit market, millennials are refusing to take on additional debt in the form of a mortgage and are instead choosing to rent. According to U.S. News and World Report, home ownership for the millennial generation has decreased by 8 percent since 2006.
The sheer numbers of millennials seeking great rental accommodations means that landlords who want to attract millennials to their rental properties better pay attention to what these young professionals are looking for in order to beat out the competition. If you can make adjustments to your rental properties that are attractive to millennials, you are more likely to get a larger pool of applicants in that demographic to choose from.
Rental Property Upgrades for Millennials
The first thing you can do to ensure your rental property is attractive to millennials is to upgrade your rental property with the features that are most appealing to young adults. While you shouldn’t lump all individuals together as far as likes and dislikes, there’s a lot of research, studies, surveys and more that highlight what the majority of the group is looking for in how they spend their money, where they want to live, and what is a priority for them as a whole.
Here are 5 upgrades that you can make that will best match what real estate experts have found rate highly with the millennial generation:
1. Proximity to Work
Studies show that millennials will most likely look for a place to live that is close and convenient to where they work. Because they are less concerned with good schools for children or quiet suburban neighborhoods like older renters with families or retired senior citizens, their priorities are focused on their work and their play. If they can bike to work, many feel that’s the ideal situation.
What You Can Do: When you advertise for a vacancy, make sure you include the best information about freeway access, commuter train stations, bus routes and even bike paths that surround your property. When showing the property to millennials, consider providing a city bus route brochure or train schedule as part of your introduction materials.
2. Key Property Features
Interestingly, millennials like to get together with friends and research shows that the key features they look for the most in living space is a big, modern kitchen. While earlier generations ranked other rooms of the house as more of a priority, this generation likes a lot of space in the kitchen for meal prep, gathering together and lots of storage. Millennials will also really be drawn to any high tech upgrades they see in a rental property or rental package. Another thing that the millennial generation is keenly interested in is rental properties that accept pets. With more than 3/4 of millennials as pet owners, they will definitely gravitate to a place that allows pets.
What You Can Do: While you may not be able to change the square footage of the rental property’s kitchen space, you can use space saving measures to maximize what you have. Smart storage, built-in shelving and a bar or island can transform the kitchen into a gathering space. Another option is to build or upgrade a patio area right off the kitchen to extend the immediate space. Seriously consider making changes to create a place where this tech savvy generation will feel right at home, such as providing high speed internet service, upgraded cable or satellite service, built-in docking stations in strategic areas, electronic key access and even more tech-savvy appliances. Finally, you can make your rental property pet friendly.
3. Entertainment Options
Millennials are looking to socialize, meet others, and follow their own passions when it comes to entertainment, such as concerts, sporting events or hobbies. Most are seeking a balance between work and play, so they are looking for a place to live that allows them easy access to places like coffee houses, night clubs, concert venues, sport arenas and hip restaurants. Many millennials feel comfortable among urban attractions and so a location in or near such an atmosphere will be a big plus for them.
What You Can Do: When constructing your marketing material to advertise for your rental property, include links to nearby entertainment venues and make it easy for potential tenants to envision themselves taking advantage of the nearby activities. Consider talking with managers or owners of nearby coffee shops, for example, and get coupons or flyers to include in your introduction materials as well.
4. Environmentally Friendly
As a whole, millennials are very interested in the environment and green living, so landlords can implement a range of amenities that cater to this interest. From recycling to saving electricity to reducing one’s carbon footprint, any energy-saving and environmentally friendly features that a rental property reveals is going to really appeal to millennial applicants.
What You Can Do: When revamping your rental property to attract millennials, include as many green features as you can. Some ideas include energy efficient appliances in the kitchen or laundry, provide recycle bins in common areas and include curbside recycling services if your area offers it. Added insulation, energy-saving light bulbs, low flow toilets, water-saving shower heads and other small but effective features can make a big difference when it comes to environmental impact.
5. Outdoor Recreation
Statistically more active than older generations, the millennials are more frequently into outdoor sports like biking, hiking, running and other fitness activities. If your property is located near any prominent outdoor recreation locations, like ski resorts, national parks, and lakes and rivers, make sure to include the driving distance to these hotspots. While millennials tend to gravitate toward city life when it comes to entertainment, they are equally enthusiastic about appreciating nature and playing outdoors.
What You Can Do: In your marketing material, point out any parks, trails or fitness centers in the immediate area of the rental property. Accommodate renters with active lifestyles by providing bike racks on the property or bike hooks in the garage, for example. If your property is a multi unit place, consider converting a common area into a fitness center or upgrade existing equipment.
Again, while these suggested features are obviously not going to apply to every millennial applicant, it is a good idea for you to look at the trends of what kind of housing that this age group is most interested in. If you can implement even a small number of these youth-friendly features into your rental property, you are well on your way to owning a property that appeals to this generation.
Marketing and Management Tips to Reach Millennials
Your rental property may be the best nest around for a millennial, but if you are not marketing correctly then your target demographic will not even know about your great place. The millennials are a media-savvy generation and the first place they look for anything, including rental properties, is online.
If you don’t already have a website for your company or social media accounts for your rental properties, create one right away. It should look professional and have lots of nice looking photos and links. Then, create corresponding social media accounts for your properties that show up to date information. Go beyond Facebook and use the social media platforms that millennials are comfortable with, such as Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Vine, and even YouTube.
If you aren’t sure how to engage on all these social media platforms, you can hire a marketing company or property management company or accept the challenge and get up to speed on your own. Ask previous renters for reviews to place on your pages and social media accounts as well, because reviews and ratings are really effective indicators of quality for internet-savvy users.
Using technology in how you manage your property is another key feature in attracting millennials to rent from you. Set up landlord/tenant communication channels via email and texting to better conform with the way that this generation prefers to send and receive information. For example, send out rent due reminders a few days in advance via text and email and set up an online maintenance request system. Of course, electronic payment methods are a must for this generation as a large percentage perform all their banking and finances online. This could include using PayPal or Dwolla or other financial tool.
Why Millennials Matter
The millennial generation matters to the rental market because they are a huge percentage of the current applicants and the trend toward renting over home ownership probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Because there is no longer a stigma about renting over owning, the flexibility that is needed when starting out a career, the massive debt that many are graduating with and the greater obstacles required to buy a home, millennials have more incentive than ever to rent a wonderful place that meets their needs.
Until those factors change, millennials will drive rental demand well into the next decade. If you can make sure that your rental property is one of those wonderful places that renters of the millennial generation are seeking, you may find that your vacancy issues are far behind you.
Note: Remember that there are many state and local housing discrimination laws that prohibit age discrimination. While the Federal Fair Housing Act doesn’t expressly ban discrimination based on age, it is definitely forbidden under the broader ban against discrimination on the basis of familial status. In other words, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to an older person or younger person or create unique terms and conditions in the lease agreement unless these same terms were applied to all.
Are you doing anything specific to attract millennials to your rental property? Please share this article and take the time to share your experiences in the comments below.