Seven Fascinating Things About Today’s Renter
Opportunity is Knocking! …Or Is That the Plumbing?
Modern renters are mostly like the renters of the 90s…mostly. But some things — OK, a lot of things changed when the Great Recession reminded us that we can’t live on credit and high hopes forever. Most of these things are in some way related to that painful realization.
Modern Renters Plan to Rent for a Long Time
Most of today’s renters are pretty aware of the economic woes they deal with every day. Even those who fully intend to own their own home ‘someday’ recognize that ‘someday’ is probably 5-10 years in the future. Until then, they’re committed to renting.
Modern Renters are Renting by Choice
This also means that the modern renter is generally choosing to rent. It’s not like a few decades ago where renting was a sign that you weren’t ‘making it.’ Today, after seeing the housing bubble collapse and the foreclosure massacre obliterate millions of families, people are just as likely to see home ownership as a genuinely risky endeavor rather than the source of stability that it was just a decade ago.
Almost All of Them Have a Car
In the ’80s, it was commonplace to advertise how close your rental was to the nearest bus stop. Today, that’s almost completely irrelevant, because 94% of modern renters own a car. A surprising number said they planned to switch to an electric car ‘at some point in the future,’ as well.
A Surprising Number Prefer Pet-Free Buildings
Maybe the number of people who are allergic to dogs and cats is increasing (they are), but the number of renters who say they would prefer a completely pet-free facility is up 40% from 2000. This includes being assured that the previous tenants of a rented SFR were non-pet-owners, so don’t think this fact only matters to MFR owners!
Access to Major Roads is Important to Them
The average commute for a full-time American plummeted in 2008 — as one observer dryly remarked, “9.8% unemployment does wonders for congestion.” But the economy is genuinely recovering, and unemployment in December of 2014 was as low as it was in June of 2008, before the Recession struck…which means traffic is struggling once again, and the ability to quickly access a major thoroughfare is more important than it’s been in 5+ years.
Stuff Isn’t The Concern It Used To Be
In 2006, 64% of renters also paid for some sort of additional storage on the side — and extra storage space was high on the list of things they said they liked. Today, only 20% of tenants pay for additional storage; ‘minimalism’ has become a cultural movement and shows like ‘hoarders’ have made people strongly rethink their need to keep those nice dishes they got from Grandma Betty for ‘when you have a house of your own.’
Energy-Efficiency is Central
As much as it would be nice to credit this to the green movement, studies have shown pretty explicitly that modern renters don’t want to pay for eco-friendly features unless they also save the renter money month-by-month. Energy-efficient appliances, good walkability scores, and high insulation values all appear near the top of the list of desirables — because keeping your monthly bills down while you save the Earth, that’s a win/win they can all get behind.
Clearly, the modern renter doesn’t entirely conform to our old stereotypes (and obviously, not every renter conforms to this or any other list of stereotypes). If we can rework our mental image to fit the ‘new normal’ into the way we approach our properties, we can all benefit locally from the social and economic evolution that’s happening on the big-picture level.