How to Cater to the Renters of Tomorrow

Alex Middel
December 7, 2016

The way tenants look for apartments today is completely different than it was 20 years ago. Yet many apartment marketers are still relying on the tactics they used decades ago to appeal to today’s apartment hunters.

While some of those approaches may get you a few renters every now and then, forward thinking multifamily marketers realize that in order to be successful long-term, you have to be able to cater to the renters of tomorrow.

 How to Cater to the Renters of Tomorrow

Why You Need to Appeal to Tomorrow’s Renters

As people get older, they start to transition from renters to homeowners. As a result, trying to convince an older demographic to rent instead of buy is an uphill battle. Your efforts are better spent marketing to people who are actively looking to rent.

Due to lifestyle changes, the sharing economy and other factors, the reality is younger people are opting to rent instead of buy. In fact, the homeownership rate in the U.S recently hit a 48 year low. What this means for apartment marketers is that millennials and Gen Z are ready to rent. But the question is, are you appealing to their wants and needs?

How to Appeal to Tomorrow’s Renters

If you want to be prepared for future renters, follow these tips to get your apartment community ready.

1. Think of Young Families

When you think of the renters of tomorrow, it’s about more than just DINKS (dual income no kids) and young single adults. There’s a growing trend of young families that prefer to rent. It gives them the flexibility to move around, particularly if they’re living in a major city.

In order to appeal to these renters, highlight the family-friendly aspects of your apartments or neighborhood. For instance, do you have good schools, parks or offer daycare services? These amenities are generally at the top of the list for young families, particularly new parents.

For example, Park Village Apartments highlights their children’s play area under their community amenities to appeal to renters with kids.

 park village apartments

2. Go Eco-Friendly

Consumers today are more environmentally conscious than ever before. And they’re willing to pay  a premium to buy (or rent) from companies that hold the same values.

 consumers willing to pay more for environmentally conscious products

If your community offers environmentally friendly amenities like energy efficient appliances, on-site recycling or alternative transportation services, let apartment hunters know!

Market your community as environmentally friendly and mention all of your green initiatives in your marketing materials and on your site. Notice how Bold L&H Lofts includes “Eco-Living” in their meta title and description.

 eco friendly apartment

Not only does that improve their chances of showing up in search results when people are looking for eco-friendly apartments in Chicago, but it helps them stand out from the pack.

3. Get Social

By this point, every apartment marketer needs to incorporate social media into their strategy. As marketers, you need to be where your audience’s attention is, and right now that’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The great thing about social media is it’s inexpensive and can work wonders for branding and spreading awareness about your community. We’ve written several articles on how to use social media for apartment marketing, but a good place to start is our mega-guide — 40 Apartment Marketing Ideas. It’s jam packed with tactics for every social network.

The reason social media is so important for apartment marketers is because consumers do more research than ever when they’re thinking of making a purchase. They need validation before opening their wallets. According to research from Mintel, 70% of consumers seek out opinions before making a purchase.

One of the first places they turn to is social media. When someone does a search for your community on Twitter or Facebook, what will they find?

For a lot of apartments, the answer is nothing. If you haven’t built up a social presence, prospective renters will have a hard time finding information about you aside from what other people have said.

Use social media as a way to showcase how well you treat tenants and the exciting things future renters can look forward to.

Not only does social media help you attract new renters, it can also be used to help you retain current tenants.

4. Prepare for Higher Turnover Rates

Unfortunately, one of the downsides to the new generation of renters is they move around a lot more, particularly in large cities. A survey from showed that 44% of millennials plan to move within the next year.

 millennials on the move

Therefore, you need to be prepared to handle increased turnovers and work to increase your retention rates. The survey also dug into the top reasons why millennials move so much. Here are the top reasons:

  • 44% moved to be in the city.
  • 43% moved for better job opportunities.
  • 21% moved to be with their significant other.
  • 19% moved to be closer to family.
  • 11% moved to try something new.

While you may not be able to provide solutions for all of these problems, there are certain changes you can make to minimize your turnover.

Even if you’re not located in an urban/city environment, you can still provide that atmosphere within your apartment community. For instance, exposed brick walls, one-bedroom floor plans, and other little amenities to mimic the city lifestyle can be enough to pull in renters.

For job opportunities, you can consider partnering up with some of the most popular employers in your area to provide rental discounts for their employees. Having the ability to get discounted rent is a great job perk, and will give renters a reason to stick with you.

Also, consider offering short-term leases. Tomorrow’s renters aren’t big on long-term commitments, so the idea of a six-month lease is more appealing than a traditional year-long agreement.

Aside from directly appealing to issues found, you can also use social media to improve resident retention.

Being responsive to tenant complaints on social media, highlighting community events and updating tenants on issues on the property are all great ways to use social media to retain renters.

5. Update the Way You Communicate

If there’s one sweeping difference between the renters of tomorrow and the renters of yesterday, it’s the way they communicate. Whether it’s processing documents, handling maintenance requests or taking payments, you need to go digital. Trying to handle everything through phone calls and fax machines is an immediate turnoff for millennials and especially Gen Z.

Most property management systems make it easy to digitize communication. Opt for texts, emails, and online systems for communication whenever possible. It’s more convenient and attractive to tomorrow’s renters, and it’s actually easier for your staff as well.

6. Be Mobile-First

This is as much of a generational movement as it is a shift in technology. We’ve shifted to a mobile-first world. However, it seems like the multifamily industry hasn’t quite bought in yet.

Mobile-first means you cater all your digital efforts towards mobile users. That means your website, content and even property management systems should function just as well on a phone as they do on a desktop.

 mobile first website

Prospective tenants will appreciate it because they’re more than likely viewing your site from their phone. But it’ll also help out with your SEO, as Google has made it known that it is going to prioritize websites that are mobile friendly. Additions like AMP and mobile first indexing are clear indicators that businesses need to prioritize the mobile experience.

7. Lookout for Emerging Areas

While you can’t pick up your current properties and move them, you should constantly be on the lookout for up and coming neighborhoods. The new generation of renters doesn’t want to be in the place that’s cool today, they want to be in the neighborhood that’s going to be hot in a couple of years.

If you’re a property management company looking to expand into new areas, be forward thinking. Keep your eyes and ears open for what neighborhoods are on the rise, and set your eyes there rather than the places that everyone already knows are popular.

Get Ready for Tomorrow’s Renters Today

Don’t make the mistake of being slow to act. Start preparing for future renters today by using all the tips and tactics above.

Social media will be a huge piece of what attracts the renters of tomorrow. If you need help getting your strategy in place, contact us and we'll get you going in the right direction! 

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