We hear about it every day in multifamily, whether you are in leasing, management, development, or lending: “Millennials want this… Millennials want that…” It’s hard not to miss the old days when the Boomers were coming up. They simply wanted a clean apartment and a lounge chair by the pool. Simple, easy to meet demands. Well hold onto your hats, because believe it or not these two seemingly different demographics are meeting in today’s apartment buildings and they are surprisingly similar in why they are there and what they want.
In urban core markets and new suburban builds and rehabs, the Millennial renters are meeting the Boomers. Statistics say that nearly 20% of the renter pool are now Boomers and that number will likely grow over the next 5 years. We know all about the Millennials desire for rich amenity driven buildings, but did you know that Boomers cite the exact same things as their “most desired” in rental housing? High-end finishes, healthy lifestyle amenities, and the flexibility that comes with renting (as opposed to home ownership) are at the top of Boomers’ wish lists.
As more and more Boomers shed the burdens of suburban home ownership, they are opting for the flexibility of renting and being closer to the action. Whether that is kids and grandkids or just a pace and color of life that can keep them feeling young and energized, both are flocking to new builds for many of the same reasons. Owners and builders need to take heed.
There will likely continue to be this confluence of demographics in our business models, but as Boomers age further, their needs will diverge. A larger more accessible unit will be necessary. For example, demand for accessible homes is expected to outpace supply by more than 500,000 over the next decade in many parts of the country, according to data from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University.
Most feel Millennials will eventually drop out of renting and dive into the home ownership pool. Right now we are forced to make sure 60 year old retired Tom and 24 year old first job Tabitha both have a shot at the StairMaster in the fitness center. We should not short side ourselves, but instead continue to develop and renovate with future needs in mind.