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The Secret to Attracting Millennial Renters

Nov. 16, 2018

When trying to attract and retain millennial renters, focus on location, amenities, community spaces, price and aesthetic.

As of the 2015 census, millennials have officially surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in America, and many cities are seeing droves of young people arrive, a majority of whom plan to rent. And they are looking for living spaces that suit very specific needs and desires.

They are the generation of novelty. They’ve grown up surrounded by rapidly changing technology, which has given them access to services that previously didn’t exist, connectivity like never before and a hyper-awareness of the latest trends.

(Photo: Eastside Heights, a mixed-use multifamily development with retail on the bottom floor, located in East Nashville, TN. Credit: Southeast Venture)

As distinctive as millennials are, there’s no need to puzzle over the generational divide. Building owners and managers need to know what, in general, this group is looking for in a living space, to not only attract young renters but retain them as well.

[On topic: 5 Ways IoT Changes the Game for Multifamily Facilities]

Here are 5 key factors to consider for attracting millennials to your building:

1. Location

As millennials are now the largest segment of the workforce, they look for places to live that are close to employment centers. And this often means closer to urban areas. They want to be as near to the action as possible.

Parking is important, too, especially in car-centric cities. In the right location, tenants may not need their cars very often – choosing to rideshare or walk to nearby destinations – so they’ll want the option to leave transportation, including cars and bikes, in a safe, convenient place for longer periods of time.

2. Communal spaces

The social trend in this generation is to gather in public places rather than the home or living space. Places to gather on-site with friends, especially spaces that can accommodate a variety of different activities, including lounges, game rooms and courtyards, is important.

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Like to hang out in hammocks? Sure. There’s a spot for that.

Enjoy gathering and listening to records? Yep. They have those too.

Need motivation on the treadmill? A doughnut neon sign is there to remind you to keep going.

Christoph Trappe and Valerie Dennis Craven sit at the outside bar at the Moxy Hotel in Minneapolis and do an impromptu review.


Organize interesting community events regularly to draw people in and to encourage them to spend time on the property and meet new people. Often, millennials will rent smaller places, assuming they have access to these larger spaces to get together, as well as have opportunities for unique shared experiences right outside their doors.

(Photo: Eastside Heights, a mixed-use multifamily development with retail on the bottom floor, located in East Nashville, TN. Credit: Southeast Venture)

They want not just a place to live but a community to live in.

3. Amenities with services

Standard amenities like fitness facilities and a pool no longer are enough. Rather than just having the equipment available, make it a service, such as bringing in personal trainers and vendors, as well as providing ways to enhance their solo workouts with options like Fitness on Demand.

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Pets are also very important to them, which means providing pet parks, waste disposal bags and walking paths. Other services, like dry-cleaning delivery services, valet trash pick-up or partnerships with nearby restaurants are added bonuses that could help to seal the deal if they will rent or not.

4. Aesthetic

New developments are taking notes from the hospitality industry to stay on the cutting-edge, as this generation wants a high-end feel at an affordable price. Luxury finishes, such as hardwood floors, top-notch appliances and granite countertops make the space feel to them like a high-end indulgence that’s still in their price range.

(Photo: Eastside Heights, a mixed-use multifamily development with retail on the bottom floor, located in East Nashville, TN. Credit: Southeast Venture)

A run-down, outdated place isn’t going to turn heads.

5. Price

Perhaps the most important factor is price. This holds true for any renter. If the price doesn’t make sense for the value the potential renter is receiving, they won’t sign a lease. That’s why you need to pack in as many amenities and services as you can to make it worth their while.

Millennials are willing to rent smaller spaces for more money if they feel they are getting a good deal and they have access to other larger activity spaces, public places and fun things to do. Older properties can stay competitive if they are able to keep their rents lower than the newer properties, while offering similar amenities and services.

Millennial tastes overall are not that different than any other young group at one time or another. They want to be close to work and leisure activities; they want to spend time with their friends; and they want to live in nice, safe places.

Every generation has their particulars, so the best way to get people in the door and keep them there is to cater to what they want.

Wood Caldwell is a principal at Nashville-based commercial real estate firm Southeast Venture, and he has more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate development and sales. Among his many responsibilities is overseeing site development activities on behalf of Southeast Venture’s clients, including management, marketing and sales.

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