While the home ownership dream is still alive and kicking, people who actually pursue it are fewer and less determined to act on it right away. In fact, according to Census data, the nation’s homeownership rate is on a steady decline, falling to 63.7 percent in Q1 2015, the lowest since the mid-‘90s.
If there was a time when landlords couldn’t give apartments away because everybody was so keen on buying, things are a lot different today. More and more people choose to rent because of the flexibility that this way of life entails and enjoy living without having to worry about property taxes or home maintenance chores. The high demand for apartment living combined with other factors—including demographic and job growth, and limited inventory levels—have pushed up rents all across the country, with U.S. average rents hitting a record high of $1,136 in May.
Flexibility, convenience, affordability top wish list for lifestyle renters
Whether Gen Y-ers, Gen X-ers, or Baby Boomers, the renters-by-choice usually expect the same things in their housing choices: a safe living environment in a convenient location complemented by spacious interiors and great amenities, as well as fair pricing.
Once a prospective renter becomes a resident, the expectations only grow bolder, prompting property managers and owners to outdo themselves in tech offerings and facilities. But which are the areas that matter the most to apartment renters? According to a recent survey released by Kingsley Associates, location, pricing and community management are the top three factors that convince residents to stay put.
Here are a few words of advice that can help you keep your residents happy while improving retention rates, courtesy of RENTCafé, an all-in-one apartment search website.
Build inclusive environments. When it comes to housing preferences, young professionals favor mixed-used developments and walkable environments, close to shopping and dining destinations. Bozzuto Management Company, a Greenbelt, Md.-based real estate development company, prides itself in creating nurturing communities. Five communities in its portfolio have been recently named to the top 100 ORA Power Rankings list—an online reputation survey that analyzed 48,000 apartment communities and ranked them based on an aggregate score of online ratings. The Kensington, a 27-story, 381-unit apartment tower in Boston, was among the top five.
In addition to upscale amenities and green features, the community provides a sought-after location in downtown Boston, in close proximity to restaurants, movie theatres, specialty foods/markets and entertainment options. Currently, the property is 98 percent leased.
Focus on customer care. Responsive property management trumps Facebook when aiming to retain residents. Renters care more about having their maintenance issues solved in due time rather than following the company on social media platforms.
To streamline customer care services and improve retention, many rental communities employ online resident portals in addition to mainstream communication channels. These portals have become a must for successful rental businesses as they offer a convenient way for residents to pay rent, submit and track work orders, or voice concerns, saving time and money for all parties involved.
Don’t hold back on tech offerings. This new generation of renters is all about saving the environment, they e-mail and text, and use the web for everything from looking up food recipes to rental apartment search and buying home supplies. Providing access to high-speed Internet for example, complemented by free Wi-Fi, can be a deal breaker when trying to secure a resident. Just as smart temperature control and rooftop panels, or the possibility to pay rent online.
Get creative on amenities. Car and bike sharing services, in-unit washers and driers, dog runs, infinity pools and yoga studios, motion-controlled lighting, charging stations for electric vehicles, or even rooftop farms, can help you score a few extra points when trying to keep residents happy.
What techniques are you using to appeal to today’s renters?