Survey of 2,000 renters finds nearly 70% are bullish on the state of renting today, and highlights shifting preferences, technologies and amenities, and how they differ across age demographics
RealPage, a leading global provider of software and data analytics to the real estate industry, released today its findings from a national survey of multifamily renters in America during the company’s annual RealWorld 2023 customer conference in Las Vegas.
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In partnership with The Center for Generational Kinetics, a global research firm, RealPage asked 2,000 American renters about their beliefs and perceptions of renting, their expectations for continuing to rent, their opinions on the most important search, decision and rental experience drivers, their technology requirements, and more.
The study found that two-thirds (66%) of multifamily renters are satisfied with their current housing situation, preferring the financial freedom afforded by being able to rent more cheaply than buy in the areas where they want to live, as well as the flexibility for remote work and trying new locations. Gen Z renters (51% in particular), feel that renting is a better option than buying.
Key trends and resident preferences were centered around seamless and instant gratification. Highlighted in the survey included: the use of online and social media tools like artificial intelligence to search for rentals, online portals and/or apps for interacting with property management, electronic and mobile payment options, convenience and safety features such as package lockers, rideshare stops, pet amenities, and smart home technologies like smart cameras and door locks.
“The research tells us that most apartment renters are happy being apartment renters,” said Jay Parsons, Chief Economist for RealPage. “Older renters say they’re renting because it frees them up from home maintenance and other responsibilities. Younger renters are renting because it gives them more flexibility. And renters of all ages tell us that apartments provide an entry into preferred neighborhoods where they couldn’t afford to buy.”
The survey of 2,000 American multifamily renters across America, spanning Gen Z (ages 18-26), Younger Millennials (ages 27-35), Older Millennials (ages 36-43), and Gen X (ages 44-55) provided insights into the state of the rental market. The methodology consisted of 25 questions. The annual household income of respondents ranged from <$20k to >$200k, with a median of $65k, equally surveying male and female renters in the Northeast (18%), Midwest (20%), West (25%), and South (38%).
“What the results clearly show is that renting is hot today, but that there is nuance across age demographics in terms of benefits, discovery tools, the overall experience, and amenities, including technology,” said Jason Dorsey from The Center of Generational Kinetics. “The survey also identified shifting priorities with the advent of remote work and an increasing desire for community interaction, quality of life, and financial freedom.”
State of Multifamily Renting
Each generation sees different advantages to renting today, and their perceptions on renting a multifamily home differ greatly by age:
- Nearly three-fourths (73%) of renters say they are renting in an area where they couldn’t afford to buy – showing that apartments help diversify preferred neighborhoods.
- 66% of renters are satisfied with their current overall renting situation, with younger renters showing the highest satisfaction rates.
- Gen X renters say the primary advantages to renting are freedom from home maintenance and property taxes; Gen Z renters prefer more flexibility and less responsibility than owning a home.
- 44% of American renters think renting is a smarter financial move than buying a house, with Gen Z renters leading the demographics at 51%.
- 48% of American renters say renting their home gives them financial freedom.
- Respondents’ top reason for renting their current apartment is because it’s a monthly payment they can afford.
- 87% of American renters think paying their rent on time should improve their credit score.
Search, Decision and Resident Experience Drivers
The ways that renters expect to search for their next rental property and the factors that drive their rental decisions also differ vastly across age groups. While Gen X renters have adapted to using technology to find their next rental, Gen Z renters tend to focus on community and use more social channels to determine where they will rent next.
Renters from different generations tend to focus on different topics when researching potential rental properties:
- Gen X renters are more likely to research the crime history of a neighborhood while Gen Z renters are more likely to dive into the lease agreement terms and pet policies.
- For all generations of renters, a quiet environment and parking or a garage option are by far the most important amenities when deciding on a new rental property.
Resident experience drivers also differ greatly by gender:
- Safety, comparable monthly rates, and good online ratings and reviews are the most important characteristics for renters when deciding on a new rental property.
- Safety, good online ratings and reviews, allows pets, and updated interiors are significantly more important to women compared to men.
Gen Z renters are not only willing to pay more for a home with smart technology, but they also expect these amenities to be included:
- Younger generations (especially Younger Millennials) expect all technologies to be included at a new rental property significantly more than older generations.
- Over half (51%) of renters are likely to pay for electric doorbells and cameras at their current rental property - the highest of any technology tested.
- 56% of Gen Z renters would be willing to pay higher rent for green and sustainable initiatives such as smart water and composted waste.
- 79% of American renters think they should be able to get everything they need from their property manager via direct message, text, or chat.
The factors that influence whether a renter will renew their lease vary by age group:
- Renters say they are more likely to renew their lease if property managers update their unit (such as installing new carpet or appliances), provide quick and quality repairs, offer flexible lease terms (other than a 12-month lease) and provide online renewal lease signing.
- Problems with neighbors (such as noise) or property managers (such as slow response to maintenance requests) are significant factors in decisions not to renew a lease.
- Older renters are more likely to renew to “avoid the hassle and cost of moving,” whereas younger renters would be more influenced by upgraded amenities and new technology.
Jay Parsons and Jason Dorsey are speaking among other luminaries at RealPage’s annual customer conference, RealWorld. The three-day event delivers a powerful blend of industry-leading innovation,
thought-provoking content, and opportunities for multifamily professionals to leverage proven best practices for optimizing RealPage solutions. Attendees of RealWorld will hear from thought leaders such as RealPage’s Chief Executive Officer and President Dana Jones, followed by Cassandra Worthy, Creator of Change Enthusiasm. They are joined by over 1,400 attendees with a combined 5 million rental property units under management or ownership.
RealPage provides a technology platform that enables real estate owners and managers to change how people experience and use rental space. Clients use the platform to gain transparency into asset performance, leverage data insights and monetize space to create incremental yields. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, RealPage currently serves over 20 million units and serves customers in the conventional, affordable, student, and senior housing segments. For more information, visit https://www.RealPage.com.
Jennifer Bowcock on behalf of RealPage Communications