Top Amenities for 2017, from Millennials to Boomers

A look at the amenities most sought after by each demographic group.

By Cindy Wick, Regional Vice President, Western National Property Management

Cindy Wick croppedThere is a lot of talk about what Millennials want in multifamily amenities—and it usually involves speed, ease and the latest technology—but of course, they are not the only ones to consider this year.

Property owners also recognize the downsizing Baby Boomers as another key demographic. That said, it is important to keep in mind that Boomers, too, are writing their own rules—the “same old” just won’t do when it comes to what they are looking for in an apartment.

And what about the forgotten Gen Xers?

Home ownership for the 35-50 age group is down significantly from just a decade ago. Many successful professionals over 35 are looking to “upgrade” not by purchasing a home, but by choosing an apartment that perfectly suits their needs and desires.

As a property management firm that manages over 23,600 units in 162 properties throughout California and Nevada, we’ve identified some of the most sought-after amenities in 2017, based on each demographic.

Appealing to the “Experience Generation”

As Millennials continue to delay home ownership, renting has become the new normal for this demographic, making them prime apartment residents for owners to target.

Property owners regard Millennials as the “Experience Generation.” That is not only a theory as to why they might be renting apartments longer, but also an indicator of the type of amenities they prefer. Today’s Millennials are seeking more than just a place to stay; they are demanding a truly immersive resort-style living experience.

Millennials also value convenience and flexibility, and will often seek apartment communities that offer high-tech amenities or services.

Providing free coffee in common areas is a simple but appealing touch. High-speed Wi-Fi and USB charging ports are becoming a must.

The fitness center is still a top amenity for this demographic. By providing a modern fitness center, property owners can cater to this demand, while also cultivating a sense of community at their apartments.

It doesn’t all need to be high-tech, though. An exercise studio room can be an appealing multi-functional addition and serve as a common area that fosters social interaction. Offering a few classes a week is also a strong selling point to your potential residents.

Meeting the Modern Family

Often forgotten when talking about multifamily is the group in the middle—the Gen Xers.

The older end, entering their 50s, contains downsizing divorcees and empty-nesters like the Boomers. Younger Xers might continue to rent, especially in urban areas and even if they have kids, due to careers and lifestyles.

Many property owners and developers are targeting the late-30s to early-40s professionals demographic. For Gen Xers, the most talked-about amenities include the latest in high-tech home furnishings and concierge services.

Gen Xers and other age groups with young children also appreciate any family-friendly features. Many families with children will look for amenities like playrooms and family-friendly activities.

Providing easy access to washers and dryers, and outdoor areas that are fenced-in, can also appeal to parents, even if not necessarily kid-specific.

The Price is Right for Boomers

There is no question that property owners should, if they aren’t already, be targeting the Baby Boomer generation. The number of Boomers downsizing to apartment units is booming, and in three years, this group is expected to make up one-fifth of all multifamily renters.

Even though they are often downsizing, space can be a deciding factor because Boomers want (and can often afford) larger living spaces. This can apply to both their individual units as well as their common areas.

Millennials value innovative services and features, but at the end of the day, Boomers are the ones who will pay more for what they want, making them an important demographic to consider when owners reposition and market their apartment communities.

By investing in state-of-the-art fitness centers and common areas, and offering free fitness classes or other social activities, property owners can cater to this older demographic, which in turn will boost resident satisfaction and drive retention.

The Bottom Line

Across all demographics, the best amenities should serve to meet residents’ basic needs as well as foster an emotional connection. By providing a competitive amenity package, owners can attract and retain tenants, which in turn will drive long-term revenue.

The amenities that generate the best ROI depend heavily on which demographics of residents you’re looking to retain or attract.

By integrating amenities that cater to each demographic, property owners can significantly enhance the resident experience, which in turn will drive retention and boost the bottom line.

Cindy Wick is the regional vice president of Western National Property Management, the residential real estate management arm of Western National Group. Headquartered in Irvine, California, Western National Property Management currently oversees the management of 23,600 apartment units in 162 communities throughout Orange County, the Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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