Gen Y Renters Buy Location, Innovation and Luxury

KWA Construction stays plugged into the latest property trends and buyer demands in multifamily housing. Recently, we’ve taken special notice to some repeated decisions that building owners are making based on the generation of their future renters … KWA calls this “gen planning.”

According to what KWA is seeing in the field, what our constituents are saying, and even what a recent Multifamily Executive magazine article highlighted, Gen Y renters are making their purchasing decisions based on location, innovation and luxury.

Multifamily Executive magazine recently published an article on the “Top 12 Must-Haves for Any Gen Y-Friendly Apartment,” as identified by industry-experts Rohit Anand of KTGY and Jeff Kayce of Bozzuto Group.

Check out their list below, as well as KWA’s own #13.

From Multifamily Executive

1)  Location, Location, Location – Gen Y-ers value their time. So walking or biking to work is more appealing than a 20-minute drive. These renters migrate to projects that are closer to downtown and along city metro lines for easy commutes to work and entertainment.

2)  When it comes to amenities, think like a luxury hotel – When visiting a modern apartment complex some Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers may think they just walked into a resort hotel. But Gen Y-ers just call these swankier living quarters “home.”

3)  Make the most of your space and make common spaces multi-use – Gen Y renters like innovative solutions that maximize space, like a relaxed fireplace lounge that easily becomes a sophisticated workspace.

4)  Niche amenities are key and should be specific to every project – Added features at one property, like dog parks, garden spaces or tanning rooms might not work for all properties. Frequent resident surveys can help identify the best property amenities.

5)  The leasing experience today is not what it once was – Leasing offices used to be considered a place where renters only went to sign leases and address property issues. Today, they are more widely used as popular lounge areas for socializing.

6) Fitness is still high in-demand for this demographic – Large fitness centers with substantial equipment are overtaking the age-old fitness room with two treadmills and a stationary bike.

7)  Blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces – Environment integration is one of KWA’s favorite trends. As seen at The Dylan, renters want to maximize their space both indoor and outdoor, and during all four seasons. This often translates to luxuries like large picture windows, custom-covered patios, fire pits, heat lamps and misters.

8)  Offer flexible unit plans, because this demographic likes to customize – What older generations may have saved for their first home, many Gen Y-ers want now with their first apartment – customization! KWA has loved seeing first-hand the various methods and tools used to provide renters customizable spaces, like mobile kitchen islands and flexible walls and barriers.

9)  Gen Y renters like unique finishes – Then again, who doesn’t? Gen Y renters are proud of the materials and finish-outs that make their living space more unique and different than their neighbors, like glass, lighting and recycled materials.

10)  Gen Y renters want sustainability, but don’t want to pay for it – This is something KWA has noticed as well and even discussed in a recent GREEN article. GREEN living is becoming a standard or an assumed feature of newer living spaces. So while Gen Y renters expect environmentally responsible components, they don’t want to pay for it.

11)  Internet marketing and social media are essential – Most apartment leads today are due to an online presence. Renters want to surf their options before investing time for walking tours. They need photos, information, pricing and perks available at their fingertips.

12)  Staying creative is key in a market that could easily be overbuilt in the next few years – Gen Y renters may be less likely to say, “I’ll have what she’s having,” and more likely to say, “I’ll have the next best thing.” For KWA and the construction industry, that’s exciting because it keeps us on our toes. Innovation is key with this generation, as they want fresh, creative and distinctive features that keep them young and current.

From KWA Construction

13)  Compact Apartments with Expansive Amenities – Brian Webster, an estimator for KWA, explains that Gen Y renters are drawn to smaller apartment units, as they are willing to compromise on living space, which often translates to less expensive, in order to take advantage of larger social amenities and perks that apartment complexes offer today. “Gen Y-ers want to feel independent and live on their own, yet still feel a sense of community and luxury living, ” said Webster. “So they will often look for a compact apartment unit, to manage rent costs, at an upscale complex that caters to socializing, entertainment and fitness.”

Overall, KWA thinks these buyer demands keep the multifamily construction industry current and thriving. We’re excited to see where the future takes us and even what the next generation has in store for our builders.