I’m happy to report that this year’s NAA Education Conference took me by surprise: instead of hearing concerns and worries about the estimated 300,000 new apartments that are projected to come online this year and what that would mean for occupancies and rental rates, I heard optimism and excitement about all the opportunity and change that is available in our industry. I learned more about a new generation. And, I learned about the incredible shrinking apartment!
First of all, except for a couple of markets, the buzz is about maintaining low to mid-90s occupancies and 2-3 % rent increases. Catering to customers, providing customized, personal service and hiring for attitude and training for skill were the strategies most often mentioned as being necessary to achieve occupancy and NOI goals.
I learned that Generation Z, loosely defined as those born after 1990, are the new Millennials. They are diverse, visual, opinionated, vocal, socially conscious, entrepreneurial and not overly concerned with advanced college degrees. Haley Peterson, writing in Business Insider, states that “Gen Z wants to change the world . . . roughly one in four Generations Z-ers are involved in volunteering.”
And finally, small is the new big! With renters continuing to focus on in-town, car-less, social environments, smart operators are reallocating space from individual apartment homes to bigger and better common/communal gathering spaces, with high-speed connectivity, and the emphasis on service and convenience. Whether it’s a personal concierge service or mobile-enabled online payment availability, today’s renter places social above square footage.