Developers pander to buying power of Gen Y

August 09, 2011 03:05PM

Demand for rental apartments is increasing thanks to the nation’s 80 million echo boomers, also known as generation Y (Gen Y) or millenials, Urban Land reported, as this generation continues to make its presence known in the real estate market.

“Its impact on real estate and the economy in general will be as striking and long-lasting as that of the baby boomers,” said Leanne Lachman, governor of the Urban Land Institute and president of Lachman Associates, a real estate consulting and research firm.

A survey by ULI of 1,241 18 to 32 year-olds shows that most Gen Y-ers anticipate buying a home within the next three to five years.

Echo boomers already have massive buying power of more than $200 billion yearly, pointed out Carol Ruiz, assistant chair of ULI’s Residential Neighborhood Development Council. “It’s been said by experts that if your company doesn’t learn [how] to market to this group, you won’t have a company by 2020,” she said.

With this generation playing an increasing role in the housing market, developers are keen to please.

Echo Boomers, Urban Land said, are driven by proximity to work, neighborhood walkability and price, but also by green living incentives, Zipcar proximity, bike paths and pet amenities.

“Developers realize the limitations [of Gen Yers] and are building smaller units to keep costs down, but are looking at design innovations that make [new] units more functional than larger units built in the past,” said Bob Champion, a Los Angeles developer building a Gen Y-friendly project in Hollywood. [Urban Land]