Serving the growing number of renters by necessity
In our last blog, we took a look at the thirty percent of renters who choose a more carefree and amenity-rich lifestyle over home ownership. In this edition, we look at renters by necessity.
Who are renters by necessity?
The University of North Carolina sums up the crux of the issue for many renters:
“Today’s high demand paired with low supply has driven housing prices up and out of reach for many middle-income workers, and many local governments are exploring and implementing strategies to stimulate workforce housing creation.”
Workforce housing describes specific efforts by communities to create affordable options for the people who live and work in the area.
People who rent out of need tend to do so for financial reasons. Those reasons include:
- Affordability. Renting simply costs less in many markets.
- Mortgage requirements. Mortgage requirements can become a barrier to entry for many people.
- Down payment. Saving for a down payment can be difficult for many.
- Maintenance costs. The cost of insuring and maintaining a home can increase monthly payments beyond a person’s budget.
- Need for flexibility. For some, a need to follow work opportunities prohibits owning a home in one location long-term.
- Access to transportation or central business areas. Multifamily properties often provide the best access to public transit or proximity to high-density areas with more work opportunities.
- Size. For single-person households, many houses are too large for their needs. An apartment home with a smaller footprint and more community often makes more financial sense.
According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 44.6 million people rent their homes, and more than 30 million of those live in multifamily communities of varying sizes (2-50+ units).
Responsibly developing affordable multifamily homes
When considering how to best serve this demographic of renters by necessity, amenities play a background role to other more pressing needs. Those needs include:
- Safety and security
- Access to transportation and work
- Family-friendly conveniences
- A sense of community
The good news, according to the NMHC report is that existing landlords seem to be meeting basic needs for their residents:
“Among 44.6 million renters surveyed in 2019, 91% indicated they lived in adequate housing that was maintained to a satisfactory standard by their landlord or the homeowner.”
That basic standard should of course include clean, functioning spaces and quick attention to repair or safety issues. Properties should also maintain sufficient lighting, attractive landscaping and consider adding additional security features like secure entryways and cameras.
For multifamily developers, the challenge then becomes how to deliver a higher level of service and a deeper sense of home for residents.
Your multifamily brand as part of the community
Your property should feel like home for your residents, and you can play a big role in creating a sense of place and community. In addition, you can think of your brand in the context of the surrounding community. How can you serve as a better steward of that community? That begins with how you support residents.
When you move beyond basic needs in considering services and amenities, think about how to serve renters need for:
- Access to work
- Career advancement
- Money management
- Child care connections
- Fun and leisure
Services that meet these needs might include: free WiFi, after-school programs, internship opportunities or programs, transportation assistance and more. In addition, some multifamily developers have shown tremendous insight and creativity by adding amenities like:
- Bike repair shops. Transportation doesn’t always have to be by car, train or bus.
- Healthy food access. Produce boxes or community-supported agriculture stands to help residents get the healthy food they need (and many accept food stamps).
- Something for the kids. Organize a community play or other family-friendly event that engages children and fosters a sense of community.
- Mobile health clinic. Support your residents’ health by bringing critical services to their door.
- Financial services. On-site banking, tax prep help or free events with a budget expert can help people get a handle on their finances.
Many nonprofit organizations can help you organize such services on-site. Think creatively about how to form strategic partnerships that can improve quality of life for your residents.
Setting the Standard
Beyond resident services, you can also develop a community service standard within your organization. Organize community events or support local causes that help build up the entire neighborhood or town, and enlist volunteer support from your staff and residents where possible. You can help your people feel part of something bigger and give them a sense of ownership in their community.
Whether you operate luxury properties or affordable multifamily communities, we can help you create a stand-out brand story and marketing strategy. Take a look at some of our recent work and reach out to us to learn how we can help you.