The millennial generation’s comfort with home ownership is precarious. It’s a generation raised during times of great economic recession and the collapse of the housing market. Having seen how their parents and our nation were affected, they hesitate to jump into home ownership. This means the pool of prospective tenants is highly weighted with millennials. They appreciate the affordability, flexibility, and proximity that renting can offer, but they have high expectations, and it makes sense to appeal to their needs. Here’s how to take advantage…
#1 Be Eco-Friendly (and advertise it)
Millennials are concerned about the environment. It is an important cause to this generation and one to consider when updating your home. Using paint, carpet, and flooring with low, or zero Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) is a great place to start. When you have eco-friendly features, make sure your agent knows it so they can advertise it.
#2 Allow Pets
According to the American Medical Veterinary Association (AMVA), millennials now make up 35% of all pet owners, making them the primary pet-owning generation. Over 60% of all American households have a pet. It makes sense to broaden your market reach and consider allowing a tenant with a pet, otherwise you are losing out on a large percentage of prospective tenants. There is always a risk of damage with pets, but one can take some precautions: don’t accept puppies or young animals; limit the number of pets allowed to one; require a pet deposit
The biggest cost to landlords is vacancy. By losing just one month’s rent, it exceeds the damage that we’ve typically seen from pets. As more homes have durable flooring and no carpeting, the risk of pet damage continues to decrease. Note: If you are accepting pets, please check with your insurance company first. Different companies have different rules on what dogs are acceptable. Some breeds will void your liability insurance. If you are in a condo or HOA, please confirm their regulations as well.
#3 Create Social Spaces
Millennials love to entertain. By sprucing up the outdoor space around your home, it will hold greater appeal. The appeal won’t be limited to just millennials, but it’s particularly important to both the singles within the generation and also young families. Simple things such as hanging string lights over a patio or installing a privacy wall between the neighboring deck and yours (if your HOA allows) can make a difference. If you are restricted in your outdoor space, highlight indoor spaces that can be used to entertain and gather. An eye-catching light fixture in the dining room, surround sound speakers in the family room, or a great entryway with plenty of coat and shoe storage will all be well received.
#4 Think Tech
The Pew Research Center reported this year that 92% of millennials own smartphones. They expect and appreciate tech convenience in their lives. One big appeal is a simple switch of standard outlets to ones with USB receptacles in the bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms. It’s unexpected in residential rentals but will have a definite impact on your home’s appeal. The USB outlets fit in the same box as a regular outlet.
Smart homes are on the rise and there are many other reasonable upgrades to choose from: Wifi thermostats are popular, as is motion detector lighting, and more. This article in PC Mag does a great job of explaining the many options available to you.
#5 Market your Neighborhood
Millennials love to insert themselves in the community. They support local businesses and shop small. Do you have a great eatery close by or a used bookstore that has been in business for generations? Let your prospects know about it. By sharing the great neighborhood spots with your agent, they can make sure they’re highlighted in your listing. Consider creating an information binder to welcome your tenant to the neighborhood, which would include your favorite restaurants, shopping, parks, farmers markets, and why you enjoy all of these different places. By setting a welcoming tone when a tenant first comes into a property, they will feel more like you care about them. A happy tenant is always a better tenant. Millennials also like to feel engaged.
#6 Clean, Clean, Clean
HGTV has really impacted this generation’s expectation of turnkey homes. If a home is not immaculately clean and updated, they will not be interested in renting it. At a minimum, the home needs to be very well-maintained. Updating dated appliances, flooring, and fixtures between tenants is the best way to appeal to millennials. It is just as important (and maybe even more so) to present them with a clean home. Most standard leases require exiting tenants to clean, but the law allows fair wear and tear so it is not necessarily as clean as one would like to move into. It’s always a good idea to ask your property manager to schedule a professional cleaning prior to the new tenant’s occupancy, and it should always be in clean condition while showing. We all want to move into the sparkling clean home!
Once you attract these tenants, you want to be sure to retain them (as you would any tenant) by promptly addressing valid maintenance requests and offering swift communication. Immediate gratification is their game and 24 hour response times are foreign to them. When you sign with Peake, you can have peace of mind that we are always working to offer exceptional service to your tenants!
-Nicole Campana for Peake Management
Lindsey Peake also contributed to this post.