Millennials continue to drive the Multifamily market, many of them putting off the purchase of a home in favor of renting, but trends also indicate another target demographic for multifamily housing, Baby Boomers. Across the nation, over 100,000 new Baby Boomers are entering the rental market each year, looking to rent and downsize rather than having the burden of homeownership. Like Millennials, Baby Boomers are looking for the quality of life and convenience associated with living closer to the urban core, but as former homeowners they have unique expectations. This leaves developers wondering how to create flexible communities that appeal to both generations.
Same Wants, Different Uses
According to Cindy Clare, president of Kettler Management, developers working to meet the key needs of both groups need to understand that the two groups want similar things, but they will use them in vastly different ways. “You’ll still have your clubrooms or multipurpose spaces,” she says. “…(the Boomers are) more likely to use them to hold social events themselves, whereas the Millennials want to come to events being hosted there.”
The same goes for the community website. An attractive, user-friendly website is the key to attracting a client of any age. Baby Boomers are more likely to use the site to gather information and narrow down property choices, but in the end, they will want to visit the property in person and work hand in hand with a leasing agent to close the deal. Whereas younger renters are often content to complete most, if not all of the deal online. This has lead many new communities to offer apps that guide the future renter through the community and leasing process.
When designing new communities, calculating the proper mix of units for the community is key when trying to attract both demographics. While Millennials are attracted to smaller units, Boomers are looking for two or three bedroom rental units with ample storage. They don’t want to feel as though they must sell their life’s possessions just to downsize from a home to a rental. Building a new development of only one bedroom units would be a costly error according to Todd Thomas of Dallas-based developer Encore Multi-Family. “With the empty-nesters renting, doing a deal with just a few (two-bedroom units) would be suicide.”
Location and amenities remain the key to creating successful developments. Easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment is key for both groups, but again, for different reasons. Boomers who are still working are looking to maximize their free time. Thanks to the freedom from the home maintenance issues that renting brings, they can afford to indulge more frequently in the leisure activities they enjoy most. Millennials crave community and centrally located, multi-use developments that offer an appropriate mix of social opportunities such as restaurants, coffee houses, and special events.
Experts predict these trends to continue to dominate the multifamily housing industry. As these demographics seek environments where their needs are met, developers are being challenged to think anew about how they design spaces. The best advice is to know your submarket, as Cindy Clare suggests. “Certain submarkets are much more geared toward Millennials there may be more clubs and nightlife,” she says. “That’s not necessarily going to appeal to the Baby Boomers, so you look at what’s going to appeal more to Millennials there.”
At Live Oak Contracting, we understand these trends and have worked with investors and developers in bringing these concepts to life. For more information on how we can assist in your multifamily development, contact our team today!