How to attract Gen Z and Millennial renters

Jon Park
Jon Park | 5 min. read
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Published on October 21, 2022

If you’re searching the latest TikTok sound bites on Urban Dictionary, there’s a high chance you’re struggling to keep up with the fastest growing generations of renters: Gen Z and Millennials. And if you don’t have any idea what TikTok or Urban Dictionary are at all, buckle up and put on your reading glasses.

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Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. They’re tech savvy, internet smart, and most importantly for you, ready to rent. Not marketing to young renters is too big of an opportunity to ignore and, in this article, we’ll go through exactly why. 

We’ll dive deep into practical strategies on how to effectively attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z renters today. Don’t worry, no TikTok required.

Why market to younger renters?

Current economic conditions are turning Millennials, one of the largest groups of homebuyers, into forever renters. The combination of low savings rates, inflation, high interest rates, and the aversion to staying in one place permanently, is making 1 in 4 Millennials give up on home ownership. In 2018, by contrast, only 13.3% of Millennials expected to rent for the rest of their lives. 

Millennials are relishing the upsides of renting too. Like the flexibility to relocate for career, travel, and family. They can upgrade proportionally to their income. It gives access to more amenities. There’s less maintenance, risk, and responsibility that comes with renting as well. 

A growing slice of the pie

Millennials and Gen Z spend more than one quarter of their income on housing, and it looks like the trend isn’t slowing down. In 2021, over half of rental applications were submitted by Millennials. In contrast, only 10% of applications were from Baby Boomers. 

What attracts Millennial and Gen Z renters?

With every generation comes changing priorities—especially when it comes to where they live. Whether it be a sense of community, proximity to their favorite bars, or flexible pet policies, there are numerous aspects of a rental property that will attract them.

Location & 15-minute cities

Location is by far the most important aspect of where any tenant, regardless of generation, chooses to live. However, the criteria that make up a good location differs between renters. 

The ‘15-minute city’ is a popular concept amongst urbanists and city planners that describes the most ideal location for young renters to live. It means tenants can access living and recreational needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. This can include everything from restaurants, laundromats, and parks to grocery stores, banks, and bars.

Although location isn’t necessarily under your control, you can advertise what your neighborhood has to offer, like local events, popular restaurants, and transportation options for potential residents. The right marketing can educate renters about the benefits of living in your neighborhood.

Seamless digital-first experiences

As the joke goes, no Millennial or Gen Z owns a printer. And it’s true. No one wants the hassle of going back and forth between fax machines and Staples.

Convenience is key, which means digital-first management is also a must. Consider technology that allows residents to communicate with you, sign important documents, and make payments online. This can all be achieved easily through resident portals

Flexible payment options

Young renters want the option to pay electronically, which is becoming an industry standard, but. things get even messier when it comes to security deposits. Consider taking advantage of a platform like Obligio, or a similar deposit-free solution, that also offers a simple cash-deposit option. This gives renters a much-appreciated choice of how to pay without giving property managers headaches.

Limit pet restrictions

Millennials take up 35% of pet ownership in America (and counting) and 76% of Millennials have pets. It’s the reason why the pet care market has ballooned to a $261 billion industry. And they really care about their pets, too.

82% of millennials view pets as part of their families, meaning the quality of life of a potential resident’s pets is going to be a huge deciding factor when choosing  a place to live.

A pet-friendly policy can also help you differentiate your unit to other similar units that may be a little bit more strict. PetScreening and similar tools take much of the effort and risk out of accepting pets on your property, but remember, ensure your units are prepared for pets and policies are up to code. 

The Right Amenities

Young renters are attracted to experiences. No, you don’t need an Olympic sized pool or ice baths, but amenities can significantly raise the value of your rental property. Here are a few that are popular amongst Millennials and Gen Z renters.

  1. High speed internet
  2. Fitness area and gym
  3. Package delivery management
  4. Coworking space
  5. Greenspace & sustainable property features

How to Market Gen Z and Millennial Renters

Improve your listing visibility

Putting a ‘for rent’ sign on your window isn’t enough. Instead, getting the most eyeballs in the right places online is key to minimize vacancy and attract high quality renters.

The first step is to create your own website that showcases your listings and the amenities you have to offer. Then, list your property on the right rental listing sites. They already receive tons of traffic from prospective residents and will help out with SEO, which means it’ll improve the chances of your listing showing up on Google.

Call out what sets your property apart 

Now that you have the visibility, let’s make sure you’re advertising the right things that’ll make signing the lease a no-brainer. Make it clear from the start how easy it’ll be to be a resident. It all really begins with the application process. 

Start by answering these questions in your listing:

  • What benefits and amenities do you offer? 
  • Is your property sustainable? 
  • What are your pet policies? 
  • What is the application process (and how easy is it to apply?)
  • What are the benefits of the neighborhood? (transportation, food, walkability)
  • What environmental efforts are you putting forward? (lightbulbs, energy efficient ratings, green space)

Screening the right applicants 

The quality of applicants means a lot more than the quantity. If you’ve followed all the steps above, your applicant pipeline is already starting to fill up. Now, it’s important to have an effective screening process to ensure you’re finding the most qualified candidate to rent your property. Technology with online tenant screening capabilities make it easy to fill vacancies, accept or reject applicants, and identify the most qualified candidates.

Keeping your ideal residents 

Millennials who choose to rent for flexibility also means they’re more willing to move. Whether it’s an increase in income or satisfying a travel itch, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to keep good residents. 

Make it easy to communicate with you by using technology that captures and simplifies emails, texting into residents portals. Residents will appreciate the ease, transparency, and knowledge that their needs are being met. Proactively communicate by giving adequate notices for building maintenance, sharing important documents, and ensuring there are open lines of communication for any concerns.

Recommended reading: Leasing technology playbook: Digital experiences to attract your ideal residents

Simplicity and visibility

The times are changing, and for the better. Today, Buildium makes it easier for you to receive and approve applicants, in a marketplace that’s increasingly fierce with competition. Start your free trial today.

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Jon Park

Jon Park a Content Strategist who started his career by building an online community of 150,000 beatboxers. During the little time where he's not consulting or heads-down writing content, he loves playing gaming, traveling to escape the NYC weather, and eating hot pot.

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