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Landlords: Get Your Rentals Ready for Gen Z!

Renters Warehouse Blog

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While Millennials are the demographic that most landlords are keen to cater to, there's a new generation of renters that you'll want to start paying attention to: Generation Z!

As surprising as it might seem, the first wave of Gen Z'ers, generally considered to be those born between 1996 and the present, are already entering their early 20s. This means that they're starting to head off to college or join the workforce, and looking for homes of their own. And while Millennials still hold the title for the largest group of renters at 56 percent, Gen Z is catching up. Currently, they're on track to soon become the largest demographic in the U.S., currently, comprising almost a quarter of the U.S. population.

For landlords, this means that you'll want to look out for this group of renters, as they start entering your tenant pool. Tech-savvy, social, and optimistic about their future -this demographic has some unique distinctions and preferences when it comes to rental accommodation. If you own Rent Estate(tm) -especially in a college town, or near a major city, you can expect this group to come knocking -especially within the next few years!

With this in mind, let's take a look at how you can get ready for this new group of renters. See how you can advertise your rentals effectively, and help your properties to stand out to Gen Z'ers.

Reach Them Online

It's no secret that this generation lives on their smartphones! The internet is a major part of life for Gen Z'ers, and the best way to reach them. Like Millennials, Gen Z'ers tend to do research online before making any important decisions, and you can be certain that they'll look up your property to learn all that they can about it before they pick up the phone to call you. They're also more likely to reach out -either on social networks or to their friends, for opinions or advice. For landlords, it's important to maintain your reputation, and find ways to connect with this group online. Sign up for social media -and work hard to maintain your online reputation. Keep tabs on online review sites, and always respond to any negative feedback in a constructive and positive way. You'll also want to make it easy for Gen Z to find your properties. Try using syndication listing to get your property out to as many websites as possible.

Use Video to Attract Them

According to Lisa Trosien, founder of and mother of two teenage girls, video is one of the best ways to reach Gen Z'ers. Gen Z is highly visual, and drawn to video -and without a YouTube presence, landlords might have a hard time reaching them.

"[They] never, ever use Google -- always use YouTube for anything that they want," Trosien says. "So if they're going to look for an apartment, they're going to find it because the apartment community has a video."

If making videos sounds like a major investment -don't worry, it doesn't have to be! Short, simple, and straightforward videos will suffice. Consider providing video tours of your property, or creating short clips of tenants who are willing to provide personal reviews. Embrace brevity -this generation has a short attention span, so keep your ads and videos short and to the point. Finally, make sure both your website and videos are mobile-friendly, Gen Z'ers are likely to view them from a smartphone or tablet.

Offer Online Conveniences

Do you still require a check for the rent? You may want to rethink that strategy! Most Gen Z'ers have never even written a check in their lives, let alone have access to a check book. Allowing them to pay rent online is a smart strategy, and one that will be much appreciated by this ground of renters. While you're at it, you'll want to consider looking into web-based features to make life easier for your tenants. Having an online portal for tenants to submit their maintenance and repairs requests is also likely to go over well. You may also want to allow prospective tenants to reach out to you via online video chat. You could also consider connecting with applicants via video chat during the early stages of the interview process, to save time and make it more convenient for Gen Z'ers.

Invest in Prime Locations

While you can't do much about the current location of your property, if you're looking to add to your portfolio, you may want to keep an eye on hot markets, and areas where this new wave of renters are likely to congregate. Like their predecessors, Gen Z cares about location -a lot, and needs to be near schools and jobs. This, as is the case for many renters, is one of their single most important considerations when choosing a home.

If you own property in the suburbs, though, don't despair! According to a Better Homes and Gardens survey, almost half of all Gen Z respondents (47 percent) said that their future home would likely be located in a suburban neighborhood; highlighting the fact that this generation hasn't written off suburban living just yet!

Keep Affordability in Mind

For Gen Z'ers, affordability is another important consideration. And when it comes to buying a home, this generation is realistic about what they can afford. It's safe to say that some of that practicality will carry over into renting as well. This generation may be willing to forgo some additional features, in order to save money -or, afford a place in an ideal location. Keep this in mind if you're thinking of making expensive upgrades!

Consider Amenities and Square Footage

They may be willing to compromise, but some things still matter. According to the Better Homes and Gardens survey, Gen Z'ers are almost equally divided in terms of what is more important -square footage or amenities. To help showcase your properties in the best possible light, and make them appealing to those who are looking for both space, and modern amenities -consider staging your home in a way that will help Gen Z'ers to imagine the space as their own. Use smaller furnishings to help open up the space and keep the color scheme light and neutral. Finally, be sure to highlight desirable amenities that come with your rental in your online listings.

Provide Connectivity

Generation Z, also known as the "iGeneration" -has access to multiple devices; multitasking, on average, across five different screens. This generation is considered to be the first true digital natives, having had access to technology for most of their lives. For them, having connectivity across all of their devices is essential. Reliable Wi-Fi and a strong cell phone signal is a must.

"More and more now, when student residents are surveyed, the Internet as a utility is becoming very close to the most important amenity," says Bob Scaglion, executive managing director with FirstService Residential. "Students want to treat Internet access the same as water coming out of a faucet."

Don't be surprised if your Gen Z'er applicants pull out their cellphones when touring your rental -there's a good chance they'll be checking to see how many bars they have. A weak signal could be a deal breaker for them. If you want to give your property an edge above the rest, consider purchasing fiber internet -and a cell signal booster, to help improve reception and connectivity in your rental.

Think About Upgrading to Smart Appliances

According to Wakefield Research, Gen Z'ers want connectivity. And not just for their phones and tablets, but in the form of all sorts of connected appliances and devices. Features like smart thermostats and lighting, for example, would be much appreciated by this group. The simplicity of electronic security systems and keyless locks could also be a welcome feature.

While Gen Z'ers are just now starting to rent homes of their own, it's not too early to start getting your rentals ready for them. Over the next decade, Gen Z'ers will start entering the rental market en masse, and you'll be seeing a lot more of them! Getting up to speed with video ads and online marketing, instituting online rent payment options, and taking steps to make your rentals more appealing to Gen Z'ers will help to give your properties an edge above the competition; allowing you to start drawing in tenants from this up-and-coming group of renters.

Landlords: have you started taking steps to get your rentals ready for Gen Z'ers?

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