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Is Your Building Rent-Ready for the Millennials? – By Cathy Jeney & Whitney Hahn

Posted on 01. Nov, 2016 by in all, Magazine Articles

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Just this year, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, made a bold statement saying that the “greatest generation” has arrived.  But have you heard of them?  At 75.4 million strong, they are now the largest living generation in the U.S.

Born between 1982 and 1995, Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are around the ages of 16 to 35 years old.  A generation of “digital natives” (those who have grown up with technology and social media), Millennials are diverse, as well as the most educated generation up to this point.

According to The Demand Institute, a research firm focused on consumer demand, Millennials will spend over $600 billion on rent within the next four years.  Their purchasing power is expected to increase rapidly, with an expected $1.4 trillion in disposable income by the year 2020 (socialmediatoday.com).  They are one of the main components in the changes we see in the housing industry and will continue to be in the years to come.

With the future in mind, it should come as no surprise that building owners, landlords and property management companies are working hard on cracking the code on what amenities Millennials want when renting.

Just in the last two years, we have already seen an increase of Millennial-targeted luxury rental buildings that offer high-end conveniences.  Common amenities in these luxury apartment buildings include:

High-end rooftop decks

  • Pet –friendly options
  • Bicycle repair
  • Storage rooms
  • Co-working spaces
  • Tech-focused lobbies

On the other hand, what about the apartment buildings that don’t fall under the umbrella of new development?  How can local apartment building owners appeal to “the greatest generation” and better position their older apartments to remain competitive in light of all the newly constructed units?  To answer these questions, here are some of the top upgrades any landlord can make to appeal to the Millennial generation.

Get Online

Did you know that most Millennials don’t own a checkbook?  They prefer to receive electronic bank statements, use digital coupons and pay their bills online.  Consider investing in an online portal, such as Activebuilding.com, which can make your building very appealing to Millennials.  A portal will allow your tenants to pay rent, sign up for utilities, submit service requests and engage with their community – all online.  Talk about convenience!

Got Wi-Fi?

Whether a building has been around for a while or is newly developed, a top priority for Millennials when searching for an apartment is Wi-Fi and the internet.  Millennials desire to be constantly connected to the outside world and if they can’t find it at your building, they will go elsewhere.

Websites like WifiApartments.com will install Wi-Fi in your building for free with no long term contract for as little as $3.00 per unit.  While a strong internet connection may not be the sole reason someone moves in to your apartment building, a weak connection could definitely be the reason they move out.

Reconsider Your Anti-Fido Policy

In Seattle and many other cities, a dog is not just a pet – its family.  If you don’t currently offer any pet perks, not to worry.  Buildings that don’t offer “pawdicures” (yes, pet pedicures) or currently have a dog park could benefit by advertising the closest park to your building and by providing trash bins/doggie bags along the way.

Many landlords have reported that dog washing stations are the most used amenity in their building.  Instead of bathing a dog once a season, many pet owners now groom their pet every two to six weeks or as often as needed.  Dog washing stations can be integrated into a property by designating an area outside the building to wash Fido, or by creating a space within the laundry room where there might be extra room.

Other Honorable Mentions Include:

  • Creating a secured bicycle room that offers a work station
  • Creating a common space where the apartment community can mingle
  • Offering a car charging station or setting up a car sharing program.

There is a serious value in reaching out to one of the largest generations in history.  To sum it up, Millennial author, David Burstein said it best, “Understanding Millennials isn’t just about understanding young people, it’s about understanding the future.”

 Whitney Hahn and Cathy Jeney are brokers at Paragon Real Estate Advisors in Washington State.  Reprinted with permission of UPDATE.