If you're in the business of renting today, you should definitely be targeting younger renters. The Millennial generation—born roughly between the early 1980s and mid-1990s—are prime candidates for the rental market for a few reasons.
The first reason why Millennials are robust renters is that they're currently at an age where people tend to rent, regardless of the generation they belong to. The younger Millennials have recently entered the working world, while the oldest are in their mid-thirties. This is an age group that is often in the process of renting before they eventually put down roots and purchase a home.
The second reason—and one that has many landlords and property managers feeling optimistic—is that many Millennials actually prefer to rent rather than buy. Why? One reason is that Millennials were hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. They may see homeownership as risky, or it may be financially unrealistic for them at this point in their lives. They have larger student loan debt burdens than previous generations, and they may need or want to pay them down before they think about buying a home. They may also want geographic mobility to pursue different opportunities without being tied down.
There are also 80 million of them. Millennials constitute about 25% of the U.S. population. As a result, you'll want to ensure your properties are attractive to the Millennial age group—both to rent now and to stay in for a while. However, speaking their language takes some practice. Here's our best advice on how to attract Millennials to your rental property and to retain them long-term.
One often-repeated truism about Millennials is that they're digital natives with few memories of a time before the internet was ubiquitous. It's true: They will expect to be able to see available rental properties online—they don't think of seeing them in-person as a first resort. Make viewing your properties, applying for rentals, and asking questions convenient, appealing, and seamless. This is especially important for first-time renters, who are new to all of the ins and outs of renting.
86% of Millennials own and use a mobile phone regularly. Once they become renters, they will appreciate being able to pay and request services online. Enabling online payments and maintenance tickets can make your job easier, too.
Don't forget about using social media as a communication tool: 82% of Millennials use Facebook, 55% use Instagram, and 30% use Twitter. If you're not on social media—both for marketing to and communicating with tenants—you may be very distant on their radar.
Make sure your properties facilitate their lifestyle as digital natives, too. You will need excellent WiFi, of course, or at least be ready for an ISP hookup of the tenant's choosing. USB-equipped wall plates for charging won't go amiss either, if you're feeling especially hospitable.
Millennials are very environmentally conscious. They want to live sustainably. They're concerned about pollution, climate change, and overuse of natural resources. As a result, they respond very favorably to energy-efficient rental properties.
Use non-pollutants such as paint with no or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), for example—and advertise that you do. If you're near a farmer's market or a community garden, publicize that as well. And solar panels for heating or appliance use will be very popular. If your properties are close to public transportation, be sure to let Millennials know for both convenience and environmental friendliness. Public transportation equals less use of gas-guzzling cars and a lower carbon footprint.
Yes, we know that property owners, landlords, and homeowners' associations have traditionally frowned on pets. Pets have fur and teeth and claws and accidents. All of these features can be unkind to properties and often require cleaning and maintenance beyond what humans require.
However, the fact is that Millennials love pets. Millennials represent an impressive 35% of the pet ownership market. If you don't allow pets, you are eliminating a large portion of this otherwise lucrative market. It's likely prudent to take the plunge.
Plan to allow pets in your rental property when you're making development, construction, and furnishing decisions. Hardwood or composite floors, for example, will tolerate pet accidents better than carpet. For other considerations to keep in mind when you're developing your pet policy, check out this article: Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?
Remember: Millennials are young. They're interested in checking out music festivals, block parties, hot new restaurants, and local craft beer. The more your neighborhood appeals to young people, the more attractive that renting with you will be.
Make a list of the events and happenings in your area that would be interesting for people in their 20s and 30s. Highlight local eateries and stores. Artisanal crafts are big with this generation, so point out any local purveyors. Again, farmer's markets, vegetarian restaurants, parks, and health food stores will be very appealing. Make sure that they know what the neighborhood offers.
Millennials also want to go out and meet people. If feasible, make a place to gather on your properties. Could a space be made into a barbecue pit or seating area for summer and holiday parties? The more Millennial renters that you have, the more likely they are to meet with others on your property—and a thriving community encourages renters to stick around in the long run.
There are currently more than 88 million Millennials in America—and many want or need to rent rather than buying a home. Make the most of this demographic trend by ensuring that your properties are maximally appealing to young renters.
Liked this post on how to attract Millennial renters? Here's even more great advice on this topic: 5 Retention Tactics to Get Millennial Renters to Renew Their Leases