Rethinking Renter Demographics

How to reach new renter demographics

Who is your ideal renter? Have you created renter personas to help drive your branding and marketing decisions? Whether you answered yes or no, you might need to revisit your assumptions about renter demographics.

Why? Well, renters no longer fit neatly into the “young urban professional” label anymore. Remember yuppies? Oh, sure, today it’s millennials (who, by the way, are now approaching 40) and Gen Z, but this ideal renter stereotype should be as outdated as a yuppy’s brick phone or shoulder pads. 1980s yuppy fashion

Not so young

Baby boomers and retirees have chosen to sell their homes and rent in much larger numbers. As Multifamily Executive describes, this cohort often rents by choice for lifestyle reasons: 

“Older millennials and baby boomers are also well-represented in the rent-by-choice movement. Demographers will identify subcategories such as established married couples (or DINKs … dual income with no kids) under millennials. For baby boomers, it includes ‘lock and leave’ downsizers that may be rich in equity but comparatively modest in cash. For them, renting unlocks that equity and helps supercharge their next chapter lifestyle.”

In addition to accessing capital from the equity in their homes, this generation often opts for communities that represent lower maintenance living than single family home ownership. Renting an apartment means having a home base, amenities and built-in community combined with the flexibility to pick up and travel or change locations more often. 

Smartland adds some practical, aging-in-place reasons to that list: 

“Boomers are trading square footage for newly constructed apartments that provide greater accessibility, such as elevators and single-floor living.”

A large, two-story house far from business and medical centers have become unwieldy for many older people. 

Not so urban 

The “U” in yuppy stands for urban, but rental demand has extended far into the suburbs in recent years. 

As Smartland points out, population growth has become decentralized: 

“In fact, recent U.S. population growth has proven to be both diverse and decentralized. There is no ‘face’ of an American renter today. They are equally likely to be Black, Latino or Hispanic, or Asian American as they are white.

Moreover, the population growth is occurring in places across the U.S. While some regions are experiencing faster population growth (e.g., the Sunbelt) than others (e.g., the Rustbelt), there are pockets of opportunity in all of these places for investors looking to grow and diversify their real estate portfolios.”

That decentralization means renter demand has grown in suburbs as well as in secondary and tertiary markets. New York and San Francisco still draw renters in droves, but many other markets have shown steady increases in demand.

Not so professional

Ok, so many renters still fall under the “professional” label, but the way they work has changed dramatically. With remote and hybrid work, living downtown or near a business corridor or transportation hub doesn’t matter quite as much as it once did. 

Instead, younger workers will opt to live near restaurants, entertainment or recreation. Describing millennials in this category, MFE writes

“As a group, they don’t own as many cars. Storage isn’t so much an issue. An 800- to 900-square-foot single-bedroom apartment is a target for this income group. They’re more likely to stay close to entertainment and restaurants. With hybrid work schedules common, commutes are less of an issue.”

Play and relaxation matter just as much as work – and that applies to all generations of renters. They want to find these lifestyle options either on-site in their apartment community or in the surrounding neighborhood. 

Need help creating up-to-date renter personas and a branding and marketing strategy to reach them? Reach out to us to start the conversation.

Posted By

Sara Bess