The Rental Boom

While we hear much about the size of the just-started-to-retire 77.2 million Baby Boomers (1946-1964), the generation beyond mine (I’m an X-er, but barely, born in 1966) is bigger.  The Gen Y cohort (b. 1977-1996) is 84 million strong.  Behind that, the Millennials, are 48 million+ in number.  (All data from U.S. Census Bureau).

While 69% (and dropping) of the US population are homeowners, and 85% of those over 65 own homes, listen to this:  ONLY 49% of those ages 25-34 own homes.  They are renters. 

Eventually, do you think those kids are going to become homeowners?  As much as is said about the value of renting — and to be sure, it makes great sense in many many cases — it would be a scary thing if my 75 year old father was still managing a $2000/month rental payment rather than sitting in his free and clear home.  At some point the mortgage gets paid off; the rental payment never goes away.  I think homeownership makes sense for a huge variety of reasons, even if the house is never worth a penny more than what you pay for it.  But for now, the Y’s and Millennials are renters and will be for quite a while.

Which begs a question in this web 2.0 world — who is providing a Zillow-like experience to all of these renters?   Craigslist, sure…our property managers use this constantly.  But what a terrible user experience…hard to find, hard to sort, you have to re-post regularly to keep up exposure, limited pictures, no mapping.  Sure it’s free…but I’d happily PAY as a rental property owner to have a service that actually maps, shows pictures, and be easily reactivated when vacant.  I’ll bet tenants would pay to use it.  Rent.com is another provider of rental listings, but they mainly service the large, corporately owned apartment complexes.

Where is the national database of rental listings, providing a great consumer experience for both landlord and prospective tenant? 

 

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