Old habits die hard.
Students making the transition into the real world are still looking for certain amenities gleaned from living in campus-area housing. Miles Orth is able to see what is attracting the Millennial renter before they hit the real world.
As an executive at Philadelphia-based Campus Apartments, Orth watches as many of the younger renters make the transition from student-focused housing to workforce housing. And in more than one way, college is a proving ground: What works best in student housing is sure to carry over with renters after graduation.
Orth, executive vice president and COO of Campus Apartments, says Millennial renters have many choices for housing and won’t think twice about passing up a place if it lacks one of the "essentials." Here is his list of the five key things Gen Y renters will scrutinize and prioritize when touring your community:
Mixed use developments. Convenience plays a large factor in where a young renter wants to live. “They are looking at the broad issue of convenience,” he says. “They’re looking for shorter commutes and they want to be able to live close to shopping.”
Walkability. Orth believes the return to city living versus suburban housing has made walkability a major factor in the success of a community. Gen Y students grew accustomed to walking to campus and entertainment, so they’re looking for that factor in the workaday world too. “Ten years ago we would build or buy an asset that was three miles from campus,” he says. “We’re not doing that anymore because it’s a different kind of people now. They’d rather walk.”
Technology. Twitter, Facebook, apartment ratings sites and Google will assist the average Millennial renter in his or her apartment search. “Millennials— they are absolutely engaging in technology and social media,” Orth says. “And if you’re not interacting with them on social media or using technology, then you’re not going to benefit from that population of people.”
Lifestyle. Convincing the average Millennial to live at your community is all about offering the life they want. One emerging trend Orth has noticed is the need to lead a healthier life. Many renters are looking at green amenities and the eco-friendly lifestyle as a factor in their search, not to mention physical fitness. “At our properties 10 years ago, we had problems with pizza boxes,” he says. “Today, it’s salad crates.”
Cause marketing. Having a recycling program or a bike rack doesn’t cut it anymore in terms of being eco-friendly. Gen Y wants verification that a specific movement is being taken seriously. LEED certifications and encouraging a healthy lifestyle through local initiatives are some of the best marketing tools to draw-in Millennial renters, Orth says. “They’re not used to just buying into something,” he says. “They want to participate in it and believe in it.”
Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.