Today, the definition of household seems on the verge of a breakthrough. Doubled-up homes, where individuals are living with roommates or adult family members, have jumped to more than a third of U.S. adults in 2012, according to recent research by Zillow.
“But there is a silver lining behind this data. Like a coiled spring, all of these doubled-up households represent tremendous potential energy for the market. If and when these compressed households begin to unwind and these millions of Americans do start to create their own households, demand will bounce back, possibly even causing household growth to outpace population growth,” said Stan Humphries, Zillow’s Chief Economist.
Evidence is available that these households are starting to unwind, as Millennials make the move out of their parents’ homes. However, these newly created households aren’t home buyers. “One important difference between millennials and young adults in previous decades is the unique financial challenges of home ownership today, resulting from graduating into a weak job market with growing student loan debt,” said Jeremy Burbank, a vice president at The Demand Institute and Nielsen. The result is that many of these adults are choosing to remain renters, even after they leave the nest and roommates behind. So what do these potential renters want in their homes? Below are three priorities to these renters, reflecting their lifestyles and how they see their community contributing to it.
Living Eco Aware
Eco-consciousness, or green living, has grown in recent years. People see going green as an lifestyle, with both health and economic benefits. So what are the top green features your potential tenants are looking for? “On a scale of 1 to 10, their top choice among green features they would like to have was energy-efficient appliances (8.33). A close second was walkability, at 8.10; followed by recycling (7.76); sustainable sources of energy (wind/solar), (7.13); and low-flow toilets (6.91), which ranked last,” according to research conducted by Multifamily Executive. These renters prefer green features that save them money, but aren’t necessarily willing to pay extra for them.
Within your community, look for green features to draw potential tenants. Energy-efficient appliances are beneficial to both the tenant and the community at large in terms of reduced energy demand and cost savings. Many trash companies are willing to include recycling pick-up at a nominal cost and this is becoming a standard in many communities. Not every community can have wind or solar energy, but it can be worth it to find out of your local utilities offer a green pricing option. As a start, the U.S. Department of Energy offers a website listing those providers by state with green pricing options. If it’s available, be sure to let your tenants know about this option for the utilities they are responsible for under their lease.
Charging stations are an investment in the future, as the Multifamily Executive research indicated. About 17 percent of renters are looking to buy an electrical car and that number is predicted to continue to rise. By investing in charging stations, you are future proofing your community against becoming obsolete to the Millennials, who have been raised with a heighten environment awareness of their impact.
Getting and Staying Fit
Fitness is a priority for many of these renters. If your community offers a fitness center, it needs to be available and a comfortable place for tenants to gather. “When it comes to their favorite activity, working out at least three times a week wins hands down (44 percent), followed by running (30 percent), swimming (11 percent), and yoga (10 percent). Most residents unanimously expressed the need for a large gym, open 24 hours, with a variety of modern exercise machines and equipment, as well as fitness classes,” said Multifamily Executive.
Is it possible to make your fitness area open 24 hours? Using a key card to provide tenants a secure way to access the fitness area on their own schedule. Keep any walking trails well groomed, making them inviting to your tenants. Could you pair with local trainers to offer various fitness classes to your tenants for a reduced rate? By making these options available, your community is complimenting their lifestyle.
A Neighborhood Makes a Home
Look around your neighborhood at what is available to someone on foot. Is there a grocery store, shopping, parks or restaurants? Research indicates an apartment community’s proximity to shopping centers and restaurants is known to influence resident decision making. The types of stores residents preferred to have close to their community included grocery stores (73 percent), specialty restaurants and cafés (68 percent) and apparel and shoe stores (41 percent). Only somewhat important were fast-food places (22 percent) and arts-and-crafts stores (20 percent). Dry cleaning (15 percent) and sporting-goods stores (13 percent) ranked low on the list.
While you can’t change the location of your community, you can highlight various local attractions, both within walking distance or a short car ride away. Use your social media outlets to reach out to your tenants about local events. Help them to see your community as the place to be because of it’s great location to everything going on. Another way to highlight your location for potential renters is to broker deals with local restaurants for discounts or food specials for your tenants. During the week, relaxing at home becomes easier with a great deal on takeout that’s right around the corner.
By highlighting how your community’s focus on these three lifestyle amenities, you are demonstrating to potential tenants why your community is the place they should call home.