How Community Associations Can Embrace Tech Today to Serve Homeowners of the Future
Last modified on January 15th, 2021
By Brittany Benz
As more Millennials have families and Generation Z grows into adulthood, the demand for housing is only going to increase. Also known as Generation Y, millennials are those who were born between 1981 and 1996. Today they make up 25% of the population of the United States and control over $600 billion in annual spending. Following close behind is Generation Z, which accounts for 26% of the population and includes anyone born between 1997 and 2012.
Getting to Know the Millennials and Gen Z’ers of Today
Millenials are no longer the naive teenagers they once were — 40% are parents now. Many entered the workforce during the height of the economic recession and were in debt due to student loans, which greatly shaped their early adulthood experience. The majority postponed milestones like getting married, buying a house, and having children, and instead focused their attention on their careers and personal well-being. Today millennials earn 20% less than baby boomers did at the same stage of life, according to CNBC. Combined with existing student loan debt and high costs of living (88% live in a metropolitan area), they are still struggling to catch up financially.
They greatly value experiences, technology, health and wellness, diversity, the environment, and social responsibility. When it comes to what influences millennials’ buying decisions they rely heavily on online reviews and digital content. In fact, according to an article by Lexington Law, 40% refer to online reviews before purchasing a product and 83% find online content useful in making purchasing decisions. They also complete a majority of tasks online, with 63% preferring to complete transactions on their smartphones. In terms of what they look for in housing, 86% are willing to pay more for a home with smart home technology.
Coming close behind Millennials, Generation Z is poised to take the housing market by storm in a few years. While their viewpoints are similar to their Millennial predecessors, Gen Z’ers come with their own unique set of values and preferences. Digital technology has played a huge role in their lives — they don’t know a world without the Internet – and has shaped the way they interact as a result. They too greatly value online reviews and are willing to pay more for products and services that highlight their individual personalities. With 98% of the generation owning a smartphone, it’s no surprise that they prefer to complete almost all of their daily tasks and transactions online. As far as choosing a place to live, the majority (74%) are apartment dwellers, but they will be the homeowners of tomorrow.
Building Your Community to Serve the Next Generation of Homeowners
It may not be surprising to hear that both Millennials and Generation Z are two of the fastest growing segments of homeowners over the last five to 15 years. However, this growth doesn’t necessarily transfer to community association board participation. Many boards are composed of retired individuals with extra time on their hands, this is largely in part because Millennials lead busy lives and are usually balancing full-time work schedules.
Another obstacle in the way of attracting the next generation of homeowners to run for board positions is the technology their associations use. As mentioned previously, Millennials and Gen Z’ers are accustomed to using online communication and productivity tools at work and in their personal lives, and they may hesitate to participate in paper-based processes such as mailing letters, faxing and scanning, or filing physical documents. If you want to attract the next generation of homeowners, foster fresh ideas, and have a better representation of your community within your association, it’s vital you provide the kinds of self-service options and digital features they need.
Why It’s Critical to Embrace Mobile and Mass Communication Tools
The next generation of homeowners expects to be able to communicate with their manager and association via email or text message, from any device. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are comfortable using mobile technology to do the majority of their daily tasks, such as shopping for groceries on Instacart, paying bills online, and even scheduling medical appointments via telehealth. When you provide homeowners with the mobile tools they need to communicate fast and effectively, they’ll find it easier to engage with the board and their community as a whole.
Instant communication also benefits your business by maintaining transparency and making sure everyone is informed about association happenings at all times. In terms of workflows, mobile communication streamlines processes and makes it easier to share important information, such as meeting minutes and CC&Rs quickly. Technology with built-in, mobile communication options also generally records all communications, so everything can be tracked from task to task.
How One Technology Platform Can Encourage Community Engagement
Think about the homeowners of the future — they already use their phone or computer to stay informed and complete just about every task in their daily lives. So why not make it easier to participate in your community and board by embracing a digital platform that gives them access to everything they need from anywhere, on any device? When your homeowners can log in to a single online platform to complete their tasks, it makes deciding to participate in the board less cumbersome. With a comprehensive digital app, they’re able to check in, review architectural requests, approve invoices, sign checks, and more. Technology that speeds up critical processes, not only encourages more engagement from your homeowners, but also alleviates managers from having to intervene or answer questions.
The next generation of homeowners is here, and many are likely already living in your community associations. By knowing their unique needs and what they value, you can better understand how to adapt your processes and communication to meet their expectations and foster greater engagement. Investing in a single community association management solution can enable you to provide the self-service tools and flexibility Millennials and Gen Z’ers desire.