Multifamily marketers are paying close attention to the Millennials. How do they use technology to shop? What features are they looking for when picking an apartment? And what types of services will get them to stay the longest? Some of the most popular sessions at industry conferences are those that delve into the habits of Millennials even before they graduate; getting to know college students can provide apartment owners/investors with a glimpse of what’s to come later.
For this reason, I was very pleased to have the privilege of spending a week with students and educators from Virginia Tech’s property management and housing programs as they touched down in Berlin during a three-week tour of Germany. Read our series, “Special Report: Virginia Tech Goes to Germany.” Led by Rosemary Carucci Goss, Ph.D., Residential Property Management Advisory Board Professor, and Julia Beamish, Ph.D., Professor of Housing and Department Head of Virginia Tech’s Apparel, Housing, & Resource Management Department, the “Globalization of Housing and Property Management Tour” provided students with a compelling look at how things are done in one European country.
Property management is very different in Germany because renters tend to stay put longer, so there’s much less emphasis on marketing and resident retention. And when renters do leave, they take all their cabinets and major appliances with them to the next apartment, so turning over units is a different process as well. We also saw less square footage devoted to lobbies and common areas and not as many amenities.
These take-aways will make the students more informed as they enter the property management field, but the most impactful aspects of the tour had to do with energy conservation. Why use a dryer when you can hang clothes on a line? And imagine the savings we would all enjoy if we didn’t rely so heavily on air conditioning at the first hint of warm weather.
The students, who had visited Freiburg, Germany—reportedly the world’s greenest city—before we met up in Berlin, were impressed by the strides being made in solar and wind power. According to Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, German recently set a world record during two days in May when its solar plants generated half of the country’s electricity.
This solar boom has been a result of Germany’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) system, which requires utility companies to buy solar power from producers, large and small, at a fixed rate. FITs do make energy more expensive in Germany, but the upside is that anyone can buy solar panels, set them up, plug them into the grid, and get paid for it. After spending a week with this demographic, I’m confident that one way or another Millennials in the U.S. will be instrumental in our adoption of alternative energies.