The costs of real estate and property upkeep across the world soared over the last two years, which shifted the lifestyle choices for many renters. The trends are pointing to a preference for renting based on the flexibility for choice of location, building amenities and elimination of the financial baggage tied to home ownership.
The multifamily market is also experiencing significant growth. Even during the pandemic, data from the 2020 Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction (SOC) showed that total multifamily units completed increased by six percent to 375,000, the largest annual count of multifamily units completed in thirty years. Rent growth also climbed 10% in 65 of the 150 largest metropolitan areas in the US. In July 2021, the occupancy rate increased to 96.9%, passing the record set in 2000 of 96.5%. This is a great time for multifamily communities to address new preferences of their current and future residents.
A generation making the biggest impact on these communities is Millennials – born between 1980 and 1994 – ranging from young professionals to established families. This generation is now the largest adult cohort worldwide with roughly 1.8 billion people equaling 23% of the global population. Steady advancement in their professional careers, higher disposable income and flexible work hours have all led to increased spending power, enabling them to choose communities with desirable features – such as smart buildings, updated workout facilities, enhanced security, reliable and fast Wi-Fi, perks for pets, energy efficient appliances and thermostats.
Building owners should focus this year on building a lifestyle that these renters want. New buildings are popping up everywhere, meaning there are lots of options. Before investing in those preferred features enabled by smart technology, including smart thermostats, digital locks, enhanced security systems and package delivery management, it’s important to build the backbone that connects it all – the network infrastructure. In fact, according to the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Study, nearly 90% of renters are interested in or won’t rent without high-speed internet access.
Beyond what’s added on the property, it’s important to understand how many devices each renter brings and what they do with them. The pandemic bolstered the average U.S. household connected devices to 25, including laptops, smartphones, streaming devices, smart TVs, headphones and gaming consoles, according to a Deloitte report. Additionally, a few other important trends to consider include:
- Millennials watch TV online and via streaming services more than any other generation.
- More than 40% of Millennials and Gen Z own smart speakers, according to CivicScience.
- They are digital natives and recognize the value technology brings to comfort, efficiency and safety.
- Also, a funny (or not so funny) stat, 64% of parents noted their kids would choose a month of Wi-Fi over a holiday gift, according to an Xfinity study.
Combining these trends with teleworking, gaming, content streaming and video calls, these common high-bandwidth usage activities and devices require strong Wi-Fi to ensure a positive experience. In fact, Millennials are willing to pay about 20% more and stay longer in buildings that offer modern lifestyle conveniences.
So what upgrades will drive the biggest impact, not just for those experiences millennials are expecting, but also for increased net operating income (NOI)? Many communities are moving toward managed Wi-Fi. When residents pay you for their monthly internet service, it’s common to generate an additional $60 for the standard service and upwards to $90 for higher speeds for 4K TVs, streaming services and gaming. The building is essentially acting as the carrier without actually becoming one. Using a reputable managed service provider to deliver Wi-Fi and maintain service levels shifts all the costs and worry to a third party.
Leaning into the trends and preferences of the important renting segment of millennials and considering the growth in the market, it’s time to upgrade with some key investments to create a solid foundation. It will set up the community for competing now and also for adding new smart technologies and amenities over time that will become table stakes in the future.
Speleos Dravillas is Chief Revenue Officer and responsible for Nomadix’s go-to-market strategy and revenue growth through the execution of technology integration partnerships, strong channel and customer relationships, and industry alliances. He also is responsible for global sales and channel growth strategies and their plan executions.