Renters Want Community and Social Responsibility

Modern renters want community and more than just a space to live

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As more people opt for rental homes over buying, many renters no longer view apartments as temporary stepping stones to home ownership. Rather, modern renters want community and a place where they can feel connected to something bigger. When they find it, they are more likely to stay longer.

Multifamily property managers and developers now must think more strategically about what they offer residents and how they market less tangible features like community and social responsibility.

Commercial real estate magazine GlobeSt. summarized this new trend:

“Office and retail have been the most impacted, but multifamily owners will also need to cultivate and activate a community experience. Simply, people today expect a thoughtful, service-driven experience in the workplace, while shopping and at home. In 2019, creating a community experience is going to be a major trend.”

Let’s break down “community experience” into two components:

  • personal community, which meets the lifestyle needs of the renter

  • global community, which speaks to the renter’s broader values

How does a multifamily property play a role in creating either component or both?

Creating Personal Community for Renters

A sense of community will vary from person to person, of course, but if you have a target renter profile in mind, you should have an idea of what that means for your residents:

  • Pet lovers will find community at the on-site dog park

  • Foodies will appreciate a cafe or restaurant at the property or nearby

  • People who telecommute will gravitate to the property’s coworking site

Think creatively about how any new property amenity might enhance your residents’ lifestyle. Also consider if you have any existing features that residents don’t seem to use much. Is there a way to transform that space or service into something more meaningful for the people who choose to live there?

In addition to creating lifestyle-specific amenities, you can create a sense of community by bringing residents together. Again, consider your renters’ lifestyles and specific interests, and then create events that encourage people to meet and interact on the property. A few ideas:

  • Host a wine and cheese pairing event

  • Engage residents with a building project or crafting night

  • Schedule a bike tour of your neighborhood or a nearby trail

  • Facilitate a business trade show for both professionals and artisans

  • Plan pet-friendly happy hours in the dog park or courtyard

After each event, solicit feedback from the people who attended. Also periodically survey your current residents to find out which events most pique their interest. Creating these experiences for residents can enhance their overall satisfaction with their rental home, and happy existing customers often bring in new potential buyers.

Addressing Global Community Issues through Social Responsibility

In addition to finding a personal community where they feel a sense of belonging, consumers today now want to support brands that stand for something bigger. Your multifamily property is one brand they choose to support, and many renters will feel a deeper affinity with your brand if it also connects with their global values.

Also known as corporate social responsibility, a brand that focuses on a local or global social issue can develop a deeper relationship with its buyers. By choosing socially responsible brands, buyers go beyond features and facts: Each purchase becomes a values-based decision.

According to Investopedia:

“Corporate social responsibility is a broad concept that can take many forms depending on the company and industry. Through CSR programs, philanthropy, and volunteer efforts, businesses can benefit society while boosting their own brands. As important as CSR is for the community, it is equally valuable for a company. CSR activities can help forge a stronger bond between employee and corporation; they can boost morale and can help both employees and employers feel more connected with the world around them.”

Some examples of CSR, also known as corporate citizenship:

  • Committing to green building standards or energy-saving property updates

  • Hosting community clean-up or other volunteer days for both residents and employees

  • Raising money for a local or global cause

  • Growing vegetables in a community garden and donating any surplus to local food banks

  • Serving as the site for a charity or fundraising event

The list of potential programs goes on and on. Importantly, any CSR efforts need to be about more than branding and public relations. Choose a CSR strategy with an authentic connection to your company, its founders, its stakeholders and the community around you. If you choose a program that isn’t an organic, authentic match, residents will see straight through it.

If you need help creating a brand personality that includes a deeper sense of community for renters, contact us. We specialize in helping multifamily properties connect with renters on a more personal level.