The changing age demographic of the nation’s households isn’t the only thing developers should pay attention to in the near future, according to panelists at the recent Multifamily Executive Conference.

While 75 percent of households are without children, a slow but steady pace of job growth will inject roughly 3 million Gen Y renters into the market every year. And that level of demand is on a collision course with an industry that remains perenially under-supplied. 

“We have an unmet demand and that demand will continue for at least another 10 years,” says Scott Ziegler of Ziegler Cooper Architects.

It’s easy to forget about the upper quadrant of the demographic when paying attention to the changing fabric of multifamily housing. Gen Y doesn’t stop at age 30, and even with their distinct personalities and rental needs, Daniel Gehman, AIA of Harley Ellis Deveraux believes that older Gen-Y individuals, ranging in age from 29 to 34, are “starting to act suspiciously like their parents.”

“They meet, mate, carry, marry, and move,” Gehman says. And more developers need to appeal to their fast-paced, changing lifestyles by building more flexible units.

Gehman suggest a transitional unit to retain renters for a solid five to six years. In his presentation, he outlined a loft-style home for someone with a home-based business. The open space would boast two offices on opposite ends of the living/dining area in separate alcoves. The extra space can easily become a formal dining arena for entertaining, and alcoves could become partitioned off into a nursery once renters add more to their family.

The loft would culminate into a two-bedroom, once building managers construct a new wall. The cost would be about $1,500 in adjustments, Gehman says.

“They’re hanging on to that loft even though they have a baby,” he says. “It helps you stick in the same place from adolescence through adult life.”