When you see articles within the multifamily industry talking about the amenities millennials want, you see smart locks, partnerships with urban coffee shops, and free yoga classes… but do all millennials really want these things? While most renters (millennials or not) wouldn’t mind living closer to their favorite coffee shop, after interviewing renters across California, I’ve found that ‘Generation Yers’ might not have as expensive tastes as the industry thinks. In fact, millennials are quite interested in finding a home with inexpensive amenities.
When you talk about millennial renters, you have to talk about cost. All of the renters I interviewed at one point expressed anguish over rental prices, student debt and overall living costs, and it shows in the types of amenities they are most interested in. While outfitting your rental property with smart locks or partnering with ridesharing companies will certainly attract millennial renters, only a small portion of the rental group will meet the income requirements for the luxury apartments that have these amenities. The large majority of millennial renters (who fit a more median income level) will be looking at you and your competitor’s rental properties.
As a tech-savvy (and price aware) generation, you’ll also want to keep an eye out to see if your property is comparable to the rental market by using sites like Rentometer. Make sure your pricing is clear across all of your listing platforms, and monitor your competitor’s rental pricing. As cost is the prime motivator for millennial renters, they’ll be researching not only you but your competitors online.
- Make Things Easier
Whether you are working with experienced or first-time renters, you need to make sure that (from your renter’s perspective) living in your community is relatively easy. From completing a rental application to paying the rent, everything should be streamlined and online. Otherwise, basic processes can give your properties a reputation of being outdated.
Mr. Cooley, an E-Commerce Specialist in Los Angeles, CA expressed frustration over his last landlord’s rental payment process. “Every time I had to pay rent, I had to get my four other roommates to Venmo rent and utilities to me a week before it was due. One or two always forgot, so I had to fork over the rent myself until they could pay me back. My landlord had me bring over a check to his house every month. A lot of the times I had to use my lunch break just to pay rent. Sure, I’m young but I work a 9 to 5 like everyone else. I don’t have time to drive to your house, deliver the rent, chit chat, and try to eat lunch in 30 minutes.”
Mr. Cooley said he was quick to leave once his lease was up. “My apartment right now is so much nicer. Everything is online, and my new roommates and I can pay the rent separately. I think my account even draws my share of the rent out of my bank account automatically every month.”
While not every property can enable separate rental payments to cater to the growing amount of roommate renters with their current system, what you can do is start organizing your internal process. Switch from physical renter files to online files. Get your leasing process online with a cloud-based property management software that includes online rent collections and notifications, like CICTotal Manager™. In the end, millennials aren’t the only ones who will benefit from this, the rest of your residents will be happier as well, and be less inclined to leave.
This might be property management 101, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to communicate with your renters, especially if there’s maintenance going on around the property. With how busy things get, it can be easy to put communicating with your residents on the backburner. That being said, not keeping them in the loop can have disastrous consequences.
Ms. Bravo, a University Student from Pacoima, CA explained that one of the biggest woes she had with her last apartment was that while the property maintained the outside of the complex, they would not only neglect the units but fail to communicate with renters. “I didn’t like that the property management would sometimes lag when it came to fixing things. It would take our manager a long time to get back to us, if at all.”
If you have large-scale construction on the outside of your property, like repainting the exterior, send a text message to all of your residents (use our mass-text messaging system). This will not only promote good communication, but relay the information easily and effectively. Stay compliant by pre-making maintenance notice templates, and make sure you follow this guide to maintenance property success.
- Providing The Basics
As we discussed before, millennials are extremely price conscious. With the rise of student debt and the lack of affordable housing across the nation, renters are looking to get the best bang for their buck. Mr. Thomas, a University student from Ojai, CA was especially cost-aware as the process to get his teaching credentials was particularly expensive. He explained that his last one-bedroom apartment didn’t provide a refrigerator or microwave, causing an extra expense. On top of having to lug a fridge up the stairs to his second floor apartment, when the rent was significantly raised him and his girlfriend found that the majority of apartments in the area already provided refrigerators, making the purchase useless in the long run.
“If you’re going to charge an arm and a leg for a small apartment, you should provide all of the appliances and make sure they aren’t falling apart.” He added, “It should be a crime to require renters to bring their own fridge when you have a second-floor building and no elevator. Those new wood floors? Everyone would inevitably scratch them just trying to move their fridge in.”
Mr. Simpliciano, a Mechanical Design Engineer from Lancaster, CA expressed similar frustration over the lack of basic amenities in his previous studio apartment. “I didn’t have laundry included, so I ended up going to a friend’s house every time I had to do my laundry. It was a pain! I don’t know why I did it for so long.” Regardless if your community caters to millennials or not, providing basic amenities and large appliances attracts tons of new applicants, avoids strain on you and your renter’s relationship, and avoids potential damages to your rental units.
As renters are increasingly becoming more pet friendly, they want their rental properties to do the same. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, in 2012 there were 43 million households that owned dogs and 36 million households that owned cats, with indicators that the pet-loving trend is going up. While this is easier said than done as the liabilities of allowing pets on your property are there, it certainly opens you up to a ton of new potential renters as there is limited pet-friendly competition.
Ms. Elmer, a copy editor in San Francisco, CA talked highly of her current apartment complex. She explained, “Apartments in this area are kind of like tech jobs. They’re all trying to have incentives to choose them, so we have social events and free yoga classes on Wednesday. The major downfall about my apartment is that they don’t allow dogs. I understand if they don’t have the capabilities, but my complex definitely has the room to build a dog area. If they did I’d probably consider staying long term, despite the rent continuing to rise.”
Whether you add smart locks or solar panels to your rental property, make sure that you’re hitting all the basics first. While everyone wants free yoga classes and bigger high-tech perks, ultimately if your rental process is difficult and you don’t communicate to your renters, no resident will be happy. Although there will always be differences between what millennial renters want versus Baby Boomers or Gen X, in the end these upgrades don’t need to be expensive or elaborate. Let’s put an end to the industry stereotype that all millennials want luxury amenities, shall we?
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