In last month’s issue of the Residential Investor Connection LINK TO 11/16 KRS ARTICLE, we stressed that Richmond and Tidewater area residential rental landlords have much to look forward to from the transitioning Boomer generation. Demand for rental units by the “empty-nesters” is accelerating. And that is driving demand for both multi-family rental properties as well as single-family homes.
As further evidence of this shift to an expanding Boomer rental pool, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) projects that folks 65 and older will represent about 60 percent of the increase in apartment renters by 2023.
Now, here’s the real plus for landlords in Central Virginia … the presence of five key factors embodied in the Richmond and Tidewater areas and much sought-after by Boomers.
Properly catered to, it is a reasonable expectation that most will continue as Senior tenants for ten to twenty years before moving on to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Senior renters tend to be good long term tenants and notably cause less “wear and tear” on rental units. Therefore, this class of renters is proven to be more profitable if their needs are met to inspire them to continue as renters. This article addresses attracting and retaining these profitable renters.
The following is to add definition to the needs of Senior renters and add to the likelihood of rental property stakeholder success.
Aging In Place: Seniors are no longer faced with living independently until such time as it was clearly necessary to transition to a nursing home. Present-day seniors are healthier, more active and living longer than their parents and grandparents.
That means there is a period that may encompass quite a few years during which seniors may live at least semi-independently. Again, this is the group addressed in this article, i.e. those who are not yet candidates for assisted living facilities.
Landlords should be alert to the desire of Seniors to “age in place”, meaning being able to remain in the same residence for an extended rental term because the property is outfitted to appeal to those with growing health and mobility issues.
Progressive rental property managers, property owners and investors recognize that living semi-independently is dependent on dealing with activities of daily living (ADL). To meet this need, new construction and renovations include larger bathrooms to grant residents and care-givers more space to deal with devices such as wheel chairs and toileting assists. Simple, but important and desirable features to include are step bathtubs and grab bars near the toilet and in showers
Absent the ADL appointments, the rental unit is most likely not senior living friendly. Keep in mind that active Seniors in their sixties or early seventies are seeking a long term residential alternative. ADLs are a major selling point to appeal to renters who want to delay another move for as long as possible.
Sustainability: Sustainable living for Seniors is fundamentally caring about how their present lifestyle impacts the environment today as well as for future generations. That is not to say that senior rentals must be LEED (green building)-certified, but should include health and indoor environmental features consistent with the concept of sustainability.
Amenities: Attracting tenants to senior living properties is increasingly competitive. The competitive advantage or unique selling proposition often boils down to one-of-a-kind or distinctive amenities. Whether a renovation of an existing property is in order – or the planning of a new project – a collaborative effort by the owner, building architect, landscape architect and interior designer will pay handsome dividends.
There may be natural features to be exploited as marketing pluses. It may be that the location is near desirable retail and restaurant outlets that could be accessed easily by adding a sidewalk. Involve the whole team to mine or manufacture positive rental sales nuggets.
Supplementary Services: These services may include such things as health, exercise and socializing facilities for Seniors. Memory care or temporary rehabilitation are others that often are offered as an accommodation at affordable rates. These supplementary services may be on-site or accessed via landlord provided transportation to nearby professional facilities.
So, there is an incredible market opportunity for rental property managers, property owners and investors in the Richmond-Tidewater area. As with any market opportunity, speaking to the needs of that market is essential for success. In this case, success will be defined by attraction and retention of active Seniors seeking a rental that has the features they desire and represents the potential for a decade or more of residence.