Changing of the Guard: How a New Generation of Homeowners are Rewriting the Community Playbook

First-time homeownership surged after COVID-19, 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 tools into homeowners’ hands to manage community living on their schedule and at their convenience. Failing to meet the technological needs of young homeowners could prompt resident turnover and detached, disengaged homeowners.   

   

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

   

Social Connection – Millennials are the first generation with social media embedded in their personal and professional lives. This generation is motivated to stay connected and updated with news, trends, and viral media. 36% of millennial users say they use social media to get their news. It’s no surprise they’re looking for the same connectivity when becoming a member of an HOA. These homeowners want information on their community 24/7, they want to self-serve and have the convivence of getting things done on their own time. These types of users take advantage of updating their profiles, viewing and joining events, reserving amenities, submitting work orders, and submitting payments. In turn, all these actions completed by these tech-savvy consumers help and provide value to management companies. Providing consumers this type of important information on a unified platform will set communities apart moving forward.   

   

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 in all aspects of their lives. 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 their finances and helps track delinquencies.   

  

Secure Communities – This past year we saw online shopping grow by 25%. Consumers want their shipments completed quickly. But, perhaps more importantly, they want shipments completed securely. Many software companies offer security options for homeowners so they can track these important packages after they have entered communities. These types of features become essential to homeowners living in condominium or high-rise communities. Homeowners can take security measures while sitting on their phone at home by issuing guest passes to those who need access into the community. All they must do is enter a name and phone number, and that guest is given a QR code to access the community.  

    

Offering knowledge, communication, and ease of usability will ultimately give these businesses the competitive advantage they’re craving. Management companies should focus on working with software companies that appeal to the new expectations of young owners. Mobile apps are good for business because they move more transactions online, resulting in less overhead, better reporting, and less effort to scale operations. By adopting and enhancing the software provided to homeowners, they’re increasing their chance of securing loyal, long-term residents.   

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