Changing of the guard: how a new generation of homeowners is rewriting the community playbook

First-time homeownership is rebounding, fueled by pent-up demand and historically low mortgage rates. Many of these homeowners are young and will own homes for decades. Their loyalty is enormously valuable to management companies, but it won’t come easy. Young consumers are tech-savvy, independent, and impatient. Modern tech is increasingly important in creating the community experience that residents crave. In our conversations with management company executives, they increasingly stress the importance of putting self-service tools into homeowners’ hands. Failing to meet these expectations can be costly.  

Here are three homeowner expectations that we see discussed in the marketplace: 

Social Connection

Millennials are the first generation with social media woven into their personal and professional lives. The lines between social media and ‘traditional media’ often blur for younger consumers. 36% of millennials get news from social media, in part because of how quickly news can spread. It’s no surprise they’re looking for the same timeliness within their HOA. Homeowners want updates on events and maintenance from anywhere, as well as the ability to submit requests and comments on actions specific to their home (such as architectural change requests). Mobile access helps management companies meet this increased appetite for transparent, timely information.  

Simple Payments

eCommerce and online banking have been on an upward trend for years, and the pandemic accelerated that shift. Today, 71% of banking is completed online, and 43% of transactions are done on mobile devices. Consumers expect secure and straightforward options when it comes to paying for goods and services, including housing and association expenses. For communities, this means offering solutions that include instant access to upcoming bills, the ability to pay with a few taps, and a log of historic payments for peace of mind. Association boards also benefit from this shift, because it gives them better visibility into finances, provides reoccurring payment options for consistent cash flow, and helps track delinquencies.  

Secure Communities 

Online shopping grow by 25% last year, and continues to climb. Consumers want their shipments quickly, but more importantly secure. HOA technology must offer parcel tracking features that keep homeowners, boards, and security guards (where applicable) alerted and informed. These features are especially critical in high-rise condominiums. Mobile-first security features can also provide convenience, in addition to peace of mind. For example, homeowners can create guest passes from their smartphone without leaving the kitchen table for communities using our security solution. All they have to do is enter a name and phone number, and that guest receives a QR code to access the community. 

Well-designed mobile apps are a win-win. Homeowners like the instant access to their community’s features, whether that means booking a tee time or making a payment. And management companies can deliver higher customer satisfaction while lowering their operating costs by putting more tools and information in homeowners’ hands. Our research shows strong interest in mobile apps across age ranges, in fact. So it’s not a matter of greater interest among younger homebuyers… it’s a matter of higher expectations. 

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