Millennial Mindset: A Generation Sparking Change in South Florida Real Estate

November 14, 2018
Written by: Susan Cumins

Presented at CREW Miami’s Luncheon Meeting

Moderator: Peggy Olin Fucci, President/CEO, OneWorld Properties

Panelists: Ricardo Caporal, Founder/President, Mattoni Group
Frank Guerra, Founder/Principal, Altis Cardinal LLC
Brian Koles, Brand and Experience Director, Property Management Group (PMG)

For developers of multifamily property, millennials’ preferences and values are reshaping the design and functionality of buildings everywhere. Members of this age group, who make up America’s largest-ever generation, choose to rent in amenity-rich buildings near jobs. But now that work can happen anywhere, live/work/play is changing to live/EAT/play. They are starting families later than their parents did but, when they do decide to buy, millennials are not heading for suburbia. They want transportation, green space, and good public schools in a sociable community.

Brian Koles, brand and experience director for PMG, finds that convenience and daily experience–the look and feel of a building or complex–matter more than flashy d├ęcor or roomy interiors. Millennials require supersonic internet speeds, convenient package delivery (preferably with food warmers), up-to-the-minute technology, bicycle storage and pet spas, and instant response from property managers. Cable TV? Fuggedaboutit.

Many of today’s amenity preferences didn’t exist five years ago. To keep pace with ever-shifting trends, developers must build flexibility into new structures. Reconfiguring surplus parking for other uses is an example, says Frank Guerra, whose firm develops and manages multifamily properties. Because per-unit parking ratios are shrinking, “the trend in parking structures is toward corkscrew ramps and horizontal slabs that can be repurposed later as artist lofts or other residential uses.” To satisfy the growing number of residents who work from home, business centers with conference rooms, photocopiers, and other office equipment are being added. However, the real estate fundamentals never change, says Guerra. “Developers continue to focus on cost and return.” What’s new is residents’ expectations of technology like digital keys for guests and speedy response to maintenance or management issues.

The sharing economy—think ride sharing and co-living—is strong, thanks in part to social media and millennials’ desire for value. Sharing an apartment with strangers works because rankings promote responsible behavior. For owners, co-living lets them offer the price points renters want. Transparency is the key to this trend, says Koles. “Expectations are set on social media and people are being held accountable there. One negative comment from an Uber driver or a roommate and it’s all over.” In his experience, social media outperforms ads when marketing to millennials. “Messaging has to be daring, social, and playful–with no talk of square footage.”

Caporal confirms that “a new, smaller unit can be a better value than larger older space. “When a 1,200-square-foot older property costs more than they’re willing to pay, millennials will happily choose the 580-square-foot unit in a new building with the most advanced technology that’s near friends, restaurants, and activities.”