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The Changing Face of Renters

The landscape of downtown Birmingham, Alabama has drastically changed in the last five years. Abandoned factories have been transformed into trendy breweries. Historic office high-rises are now boutique hotels with rooftop bars. And wherever space allows, upscale apartment buildings are being constructed with a vengeance.

Sure, Birmingham, like many apartment-heavy areas, is a college town and has its fair share of commuter students. Few of those, however, are the target tenants of these fancy new apartment communities. Instead, these chic complexes are being built specifically to satisfy the refined and growing demands of the rapidly retiring baby boomer generation.

Not Your Grandma’s Idea of Senior Living

Typically, “senior” living options bring about visions of assisted living and semi-independent living communities that are designed for older adults who may need help with medical issues or need subsidized rental arrangements due to income constraints. This is definitely not what’s happening in Birmingham.

First of all, anyone can rent these units; they’re not age-specific. However, the high-end fixtures, prime locations, and deluxe amenities naturally limit the market to those who can afford such luxuries. Often, those potential renters are age 55 and older.

The decision to rent is no longer considered a sacrifice or a step down from home ownership for seniors. Overall, adults aged 40 and older account for 51 percent of the total renter population. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, 38 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds and 40 percent of those 65 and older prefer to rent rather than maintain a house, even a downsized version.

While particular preferences and reasons for renting vary, in Birmingham, proximity to downtown restaurants, bars, cultural attractions, sporting events, parks, and yes, quality medical facilities eliminate the need for multiple vehicles and promote a healthy walking commute. Apartments naturally require less maintenance, eliminating the expense and exasperation of yard work, household repairs, and a garage full of tools.

A Landlord’s Dream Tenants

This changing dynamic can be a boon for landlords and property owners, who can most likely expect a creditworthy applicant, more reliable payor, and less disruptive tenant. Landlords are resorting to software services to easily manage the end-to-end rental process. These free services offer landlords the chance to list their properties through simplified one-click postings, easy solutions to collect and screen applications, check tenants credit, and to manage current renters throughout their residency with one easy-to-use system.

Such software also allows landlords to highlight their property’s features through eye-catching photographs and engaging descriptions to help secure the ideal tenant. When creating a listing, landlords should put themselves in the chic shoes of this older, affluent population, and think about what they want to see in a property. 

Is it within walking distance from the town’s best food and beverage establishments, theaters, and night-time hotspots? Does it offer high-end finishes like granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and a glass-surround shower? When it comes to family visits or sleep overs; do the units have second or third bedrooms, additional baths, or a large dining area for holiday meals? And if the apartment community is pet-friendly, has a pool, or features a communal picnic area, landlords should describe these amenities in a way that appeals to the boomer lifestyle.

Financial Fallacies

For centuries, people have clung to the idea of property ownership as a solid financial investment and perhaps even a status symbol. Yes, land does appreciate in value, however, as one senior wealth advisor recently shared in the Washington Post, real estate historically appreciates at a rate of 3 percent a year. 

The stock market, however, typically appreciates 10 percent annually. Investing the proceeds from the sale of a home into a growth-driven account could actually give renting boomers a financial advantage over their property-bound counterparts.

Adding these facts to your property manager and marketer toolkit can help you attract a new breed of reliable renter!

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