NAREE Special Report: The New Renter

Rick Haughey_resized

New Orleans—With the apartment population growing at opposite ends of the generational spectrum, apartment owners and managers may feel just a bit bipolar. Is it better to focus on the Millennials’ preferences or those of the increasing number of Baby Boomers who are giving up their houses in favor of a simpler, more flexible lifestyle? While some decision making may be necessary, the good—and somewhat surprising—news is, the two groups actually share many likes and dislikes, according to Rick Haughey, vice president of industry technology initiatives for the National Multifamily Housing Council. Haughey presented the results of a recent association study during the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ 2016 Real Estate Journalism Conference in June. The sample totaled 119,266 apartment residents in 3,280 centers located in 44 markets.

About 60 percent of respondents, “older Millennials” in the 24-to-35 age bracket and Baby Boomers,  cited lifestyle and flexibility preferences as primary reasons for renting—in fact, the 12-month lease is going away, according to Haughey. Both groups said they sought neighborhoods that are proximate to local businesses and offer walkability. Inside their communities, they prefer less “forced” social activities such as farmer’s markets and informal social spaces. And they both placed a strong value on high-speed Internet and cell service—perhaps not surprising but something developers are too often not considering until the community has been built, Haughey cautioned, despite the fact that some construction materials can impede cellular strength.

One difference of opinion centers on storage options: While Millennials tend to like storage within their unit (think the bicycle hung on the wall), Baby Boomers prefer the more traditional basement storage option. Haughey emphasized a need for further study of “where the pain points are.”

Some key findings:

Haughey video article chart