Victor’s Insider Scoop on the Need for and Trends in “Wired” Apartments
November 7th, 2012 | top of page
Four of the articles in this month’s edition of Phoenix Apartment Real Estate News (if you’re not a subscriber click here) are about apartment design. Specifically, design related to the wants and needs of the Gen Y renter.
There’s little question that the renter pool of young adults is big and getting BIGGER. According to Multi-Family Executive there are 80 million members of Gen Y that will be hitting their prime renting years over the next decade. That’s a population larger than the Baby Boomers! This has to be good news for apartment developers like Alliance Residential.
Ownership of laptops and smart phones is at its highest (89%±) in the Gen Y demographic so it’s not surprising to learn that this group is most likely to tap into the Web and Social Media when conducting an apartment search. This trend is forcing apartment owners and managers to be much more savvy in their online marketing message if they hope to capture the attention of the tech-centric Gen Y renter. An apartment complex with a clunky website design that’s incompatible with tablet and smart phone platforms is assuredly self-selecting itself out of the Gen Y prospect pool. The most up-to-date leasing offices use iPads to show prospects around the property.
While the process of attracting the Gen Y renter is centered on their hand held devices, their signature on a lease is (oddly) more a function of the property’s location, efficiency, adaptability and the quality/responsiveness of its management than on high tech amenities or architectural design features. The most desired amenities include parking, a fitness center, pool, common gathering areas that blur the boundaries between work/play (think Starbucks), convenient public transportation, and a neighborhood with shopping, dining and entertainment options.
While it may not have been overtly mentioned in the referenced study, there is one overriding feature necessary to satisfy the needs of Gen Y renters and their devices: Being In Touch at all times. A blanket of stable, high bandwidth (that’s SPEED for you Baby Boomers) internet connectivity and strong cell phone signal reception throughout the apartment community are mandatory. Both of these features are provided through unseen Cat-5 wiring behind the walls and nearby cell phone towers.
Gen Y apartment designers are trending towards more open floor plans with a single floor covering choice to unify the space. Current renters seem willing to live with 150 square feet less of floor space than they were during the last development cycle. With economic realities forcing some renters into living with roommates, more apartments are now being built with two bathrooms.
Many of the features and design issues discussed in this article are most readily achieved when the developer and his architect start with the proverbial blank sheet of paper, new construction and a big budget.
It’s unrealistic to expect the real estate community to meet the needs of Gen Y renters with a continuous supply of newly constructed product. The developer/architect team that can figure out how to economically retrofit existing Class B and C product into the Gen Y mold while keeping rents in check has a great future in this growing niche!
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