By Brent A. Kohere
While dollars always matter, gone are the days that renters base their living decisions off of monthly costs alone. Today, renters are more concerned with enhancing their renting experience by finding communities that are the “right fit.” In many cases they are drawn to communities that offer great amenities. In fact, they are more likely to pay higher rents if they feel the amenities outweigh the extra costs. Still, renters don’t need luxury living to reap its benefits. Class B, garden-style apartment communities can provide excellent features as well, and its the owners job to express the value of these apartments, no matter what class they fall under, in a language that today’s renter understands: amenities.
First, you need to know the ins-and-outs of your location and renter demographic. Is your property located in a metropolitan or suburban area? Does the market consist mostly of college students, single adults, families or senior citizens? Is the prospective renter a commuter or more likely to stay close to home? These are the questions you should ask yourself when considering adding new amenities or marketing your apartment community to a prospective renter.
Let’s take a look at two important age groups: Millennials and Baby Boomers.
Without a doubt, millennials make up a majority of today’s apartment renters due to the attractiveness of not being physically, emotionally, or financially tied to a mortgage. In fact, the percentage of millennial renters is expected to increase as a result of high student debt burdens, the delay of marriage and children, the financial responsibilities that come with parenthood, tougher mortgage lending standards and low working wages.
Because millennials grew up in a digital age, millennials equate convenience with speediness, meaning they find value in amenities that give them access to solving problems quickly. The internet is a great example, as it is their way of receiving instant gratification. Offering free Wi-Fi, high-speed internet, charging stations and USB ports, resident dashboards and online payment options are crucial to attracting millennial renters. High-speed internet is a must-have amenity for millennials, as slow internet access creates frustration, and can be a deal breaker if not available.
In addition, millennials value amenities that help expand their social circles and lifestyles. Consider offering the following: smaller bedrooms and larger living rooms for hosting purposes, wood flooring and granite countertops for easy clean up, communal party rooms, community clubhouses and free social gatherings courtesy of the apartment owner. Millennials also enjoy spaces that allow them to be social and active, such as yoga and dance studios, fitness centers and basketball and volleyball courts.
Lastly, many millennials who choose to rent in the city typically do not have cars. Close proximity to public transportation, shopping centers, restaurants and other central locations are important. Remember anything free, social and fast guarantees a yes from renters in this age group.
Appealing to Baby Boomers
Contrary to Millennials, Baby Boomers find value in support, security, and comfortability. Renters in this generation may help care for their parents, children, grandchildren and pets, so it’s important for them to feel supported by their living space.
Safety or the lack thereof can be a huge deal breaker for baby boomers. They are more likely to appreciate amenities such as gated entrances, on-site security guards and security cameras located throughout the property. Knowing someone is on the premises to monitor visitors and screen package deliveries provides a sense of security for this crowd. For senior housing properties, close proximity or shuttle service to doctor offices and hospitals can also help make residents feel more at home.
When it comes to comfortability and relaxation, this age group appreciates high-quality appliances and scenic views. They look for amenities such as in-unit washer and dryers, reliable kitchen appliances, fireplaces, patios, balconies and trails for daily strolls. For seniors, game nights could win them over.
A major deal breaker for older adults is not having access to parking. With a majority of these renters owning cars, there is a need for on-site parking and in most cases, assigned spaces or covered parking. Both provide residents a sense of ownership and security.
No matter the age, for renters with children, apartment communities that offer daycare or babysitting services as well as after school programs are bonuses they simply can’t overlook. They’ll also seek out apartments in good school districts. Providing family-friendly activities is also a way to reel these renters in.
If you haven’t already, consider on-site playgrounds, sport courts and miniature golf courses, swimming pools, picnic areas and outdoor homework spaces. While more of the population is turning towards apartments, their lifestyles aren’t changing. According to the ASPCA, 60 percent of the U.S. population owns at least one pet, yet many multifamily owners still have pet restrictions in their leases. That’s leaving money on the table.
If you find your property is drawing a variety of age groups, look to create a balance among the amenities you offer to satisfy everyone’s needs. But never forget that ultimately, a professionally-managed apartment community with great customer service and upkeep will attract a renter of any age.
Brent A. Kohere is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Morgan Properties, the 25th largest apartment owner in the U.S. with 146 apartment communities and over 40,000 units located in 10 states: PA, MD, NJ, NY, DE, VA, NC, SC, OH, and NE.