A new survey shows the top five technologies that renters want and that, over the last year, residents’ interest in rental technologies has grown by an average of 7 points.

The 2020 State of the Property Management Industry Report by Buildium and the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM), surveyed both property managers and renters.

Paying for rent online:  65%

Communicating via text or email: 58%

Applying for rentals online:  48%

Access to a resident portal:  49%

Filling maintenance requests online:  45%

In the annual survey of 1,188 renters across the county, Buildium and NARPM found the biggest gains in interest among renters were in applying for rentals online (+15 points), communicating with their property manager via text or email (+11 points), and signing leases and other documents electronically (+8 points).

Though interest has stayed roughly constant among Gen Z and Millennial renters over time, Gen X residents and Baby Boomers are far more interested in technology than they were just a year ago: On average, interest in rental technologies has grown by 8 points among Gen Xers and 10 points among Baby Boomers, according to Buildium’s 5th Annual State of the Property Management Industry Report.

Though Millennials are the most enthusiastic about technology overall, more than half of Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer renters want the ability to pay rent online and communicate with their property manager via text or email.

How Residents Want to Pay

Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X renters all agree that they prefer to pay their rent via electronic payment, electronic bank transfer, or credit/debit card over writing a check.

Though most Baby Boomers still feel more comfortable paying by check, nearly one in three would rather pay online. Residents of all ages appreciate having the option to pay their rent online, and their expectation to be able to handle this and other tasks digitally increases with every year.

The survey also showed two in five renters definitely plan on renewing their lease for another year – a number that stayed constant from 2018 to 2019.

How the “Typical Renter” Definition is Evolving and What Renting Means to Residents

“In the past, we’ve thought of renting as a temporary rite of passage for those who haven’t yet set down roots or saved enough for a down payment on a home of their own. But for many Americans today, renting is a lifestyle choice, as well as a necessary alternative to homeownership for those whose finances were irreparably altered by the Great Recession,” the report says.

As a result, property managers’ strategies for attracting and retaining renters will need to evolve to fit a broader demographic than they’ve seen in the past.

Renters’ desire to own a home of their own varies logically by age: Gen Z residents are happy renting for now, but assume that they’ll want to become homeowners down the road.

Millennials and Gen X renters are highly interested in homeownership, but are waiting for the right time to buy. Baby Boomer residents are largely former homeowners who either prefer to rent or have financial reasons for doing so at this time in their lives.

[Editor’s Note:  If you choose communication by text or email, be sure to include a clause in your rental agreement stating so.]

The report was produced by Buildium in partnership with the National Association of Property Managers (NARPM).

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