May 11th, 2016
I wrote this piece after I attended a very interesting break-out session at the New Jersey Real Estate Summit produced by the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) on April 15, 2016.
The title of the session was Millennials and Urbanism. The purpose was to illustrate how the Millennial generation is redefining some of the top urban real estate markets and retail demands.
The panel consisted of 3 prominent real estate developers from Hudson County, NJ, who've developed some of the premier urban living projects in Jersey City and Hoboken. Eyal Shuster, founder and CEO of the Shuster Group, is responsible for projects like The Art House and The Oakman. George Vallone, president of the Hoboken Brownstone Company, is responsible for developing hundreds of high-end units in Hoboken and will soon embark on a 1.4 million square foot residential & commercial development in Hoboken. Paul Silverman, principal of Silverman, the real estate development company he and his brother, Eric, founded in 1981, adopted a company tag line years ago that fits their work; Building Neighborhoods. They are best known for the Majestic, the Park Foundry, the Schroeder Lofts, Hamilton Square, and Charles & Co. The final panelist was Sherry Chris, President & C.E.O. of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, who has more than 30 years in the industry.
But before I divulge some of the secrets I learned, I'd like to state Wikipedia's definition for Millennials. Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, abbreviated to Gen Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000. So today, in 2016, most Millennials range in age from 16 - 36 years. Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released in 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 52-70). And Generation X (ages 37-52) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.
The industry insiders on this panel shared many of their secrets and formulas for what they are building and who they are building it for. The answer to the who, was unquestionably the Millennials. So, what exactly do Millennials want?
Lifestyle and community are #1. Millennials want to live in a community that they feel a part of. They are a social group that needs contact with their neighbors. While they are very much a part of the digital technology generation who relies on their devices for most social interaction, they like to have access to and see their neighbors with their heads down looking at their own handheld devices.
Millennials want efficient, 1 BR or 1BR with den apartments. They don't need a lot of personal space, but they do like their own space. They don't care for roommates and would much rather live in a one bedroom or studio than share a two or three bedroom with friends. To go along with this theme, they also demand their own clothes washer/dryer.
They want lots of common amenities. Fitness rooms, media rooms, conference rooms, pools, roof decks, and other outdoor space are a must.
Putting technology at their fingertips is critical. Millennials communicate digitally. Don't dare call them on the phone. Just text them, reach out through social media, or email them if you must. Touch screens in elevators and lobbies, mail delivery notification, and camera surveillance systems that allow them to survey their property from their handheld device are what they like.
They are environmentally conscious, so they are big on recycling and composting and down on trash. They are big proponents of low VOC building materials, filtered HVAC, filtered water, and lots of gardens and trees.
They do most of their shopping online, so build bigger mail and package rooms, and make sure Amazon, FedEx, and UPS have a way to drop their packages when they're not home. They travel a lot, so Smart Home technology is a must. They like to be able to lock/unlock doors and control HVAC & lights remotely. They like to work from home, so reliable, high-speed Internet is paramount.
They don't like long commutes, but they don't mind walking up to ten minutes to a train or bus. They don't like to own cars; Uber, Zipcar, and City Bike are some of their favorite urban commuting tools.
They have a taste for the finer things in life, so they like curated retail space integrated into their communities. Fine wine and beer purveyors, boutique clothing and jewelry, and restaurants by known chefs to name a few.
While home ownership is something they want in the future, they are in no rush to own. They are perfectly content renting in a development that suits their present needs and desires, while they pay off their student loans.
By: Mike Milia