‘What Renters Want’ with Jessica Fiur: How to Appeal to Different Groups of Renters (And Why You Should Want To)

5 min read

This past weekend my husband and I went down to D.C. to visit some friends, and they took us to a Nationals game. I’m not a fan of baseball, but I don’t like to cause waves, so I went. Plus, they were my ride. Anyway, after the game and after all the players left the […]

This past weekend my husband and I went down to D.C. to visit some friends, and they took us to a Nationals game. I’m not a fan of baseball, but I don’t like to cause waves, so I went. Plus, they were my ride. Anyway, after the game and after all the players left the field, stadium workers began wheeling out a portable stage, and soon after we all got to watch a free Wallflowers concert. (I’ve said it before: The ’90s are totally back.)

Now, I love concerts. Love them. (You probably wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at my sensible ponytail and work-appropriate Ann Taylor Loft sweater set, but I’ve sung myself hoarse at concerts, crowd surfed and almost got kicked in the head in the pit—several times.) Who knew baseball could be so fun?

And apparently lots of teams are offering free concerts or entertainment for those in the stadium after the game is over. What a great idea! And I’m sure a lot of people who might be ambivalent about sports would totally go to more games—willingly, even—if there were going to be free shows after.

Are you casting a wide enough net at your apartment building to reel in as many prospective renters as possible? I know everyone right now really is angling for the coveted multifamily demographic: young professionals. Because they have disposable incomes, probably don’t have kids (so less wear and tear on the apartments) and will probably pay their rents on time. But if you’re only appealing to this one group, think about all the potential renters you’re missing out on.

Here are some suggestions on how to appeal to more than one demographic of renters. Bonus: Most of them are pretty cheap to implement. You’ll be on your way to 100 percent leased in no time!

Offer free wifi and a library. You pretty much need to offer wifi in your buildings now. Almost everyone is on an iPad or an iPhone or a laptop, etc. Almost everyone. I know it’s hard to believe, but some people aren’t. Or some people would rather just curl up with a good old-fashioned book that won’t just start flipping pages and shutting off on its own like a malfunctioning e-reader (unless you have some sort of poltergeist problem, but if you build on an ancient burial ground you’ll have a whole different set of problems to worry about than just appealing to different renters). You don’t need a huge library featuring wall-to-wall books like Belle had in Beauty and the Beast (though, that would be awesome). Just put up a few shelves in the lobby or a common room and stock it with some Stephen King and John Grisham for your residents to peruse or borrow. You could even encourage them to leave their old books that they don’t want anymore, and that way your library can expand organically. If a lot of people get into it, you can even hold a weekly resident book club, so people could socialize and get to know their neighbors.

Host happy hours, as well as wine and cheese mixers and build your own sundae parties. All appeal to different age groups, but have a lot of cross appeal. That way people don’t have to feel left out and isolated if they’re not into vodka sodas. Maybe just don’t throw all these at once, though. (Although I am sort of curious about what type of margarita would pair best with a nice brie and a carmel-fudge sundae. I’m thinking…strawberry.) Again, residents would be encouraged to socialize.

Seriously, if that doesn’t motivate everyone to work out, I don’t know what will!

Offer different types of fitness classes. If you have a fitness facility in your building and offer classes, how about trying something besides spinning or yoga? Those are fine, but everyone has them, so they’re not much of a novelty anymore. Whatever happened to jazzercise or sweating to the oldies? (Just had a hilarious mental image of everyone in a yoga class dressed like Olivia Newton John in her “Let’s Get Physical” music video. I think legwarmers are definitely due for a comeback.) Seriously though, maybe offer some low impact classes. Or some mommy (or daddy) and me classes. If you have a pool, you can have some water aerobics classes. Anything that would seem less intimidating for older residents (actually if instructors did have to dress up like Olivia Newton John the classes would be less intimidating for everyone) or those who are just getting into exercise.

Have movie nights with all sorts of movies. If you have a screening room, you should definitely have movie nights for your residents. (Because I seriously don’t think anyone uses a screening room otherwise.) And it would be really cool to screen some current movies there. But not everyone is interested in a particular genre. So you should have theme parties. Maybe one night screen Oscar winning movies from a certain year. Then another time have a horror movie night. Or pick your favorite director and screen one of those movies. Or you can even pick a theme and have residents vote on what they would like to see, for example: Everyone pick your favorite non-Katherine Heigl Chick Flick! If you’re really ambitious, you can have a discussion group after the movie. By not always showing “Generic Action Movie Where Things Explode and the Female Protagonist Runs Around in 4-inch Heels Even Though in Real Life Women Can Barely Walk a City Block in Them,” you’ll hopefully appeal to everyone at some point.

What are some of your suggestions to appealing to a wider age range of renters?

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor

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