Guest Submission: Millennial Expectations Driving Housing Market in Small Cities

Below is a guest post from Jordan Ilyes, a developer in York, PA.

What do millennials actually want?

In small cities, meeting the millennial demand is driving a market full of opportunities that some developers may be missing. In York, Pennsylvania, a city of 44,000 located about 50 miles north of Baltimore and 100 miles west of Philadelphia, developers are seeing exactly this — an increased demand for market-rate apartments located in the heart of downtown. A Residential Market Feasibility Analysis conducted in 2015 found a “significant unmet demand” for more than 100 apartment units in the 6-by-6-block Central Business District alone.george3

At Distinct Property Management, a development and property management company based in York, we and other developers are seeing several trends in this emerging market as we strive to meet millennials’ housing expectations. Here’s some of what we’re seeing here in York:

What do millennials expect?

  • Affordable housing – Market-rate apartments and townhomes that don’t blow the budget
  • Mid- to high-end finishes – This generation has high expectations when it comes to how thgeorge-st-suites-thumbeir apartment looks, even if they have a market-rate budget
  • Hassle-free living – Turn-key move-in, automatic bill pay and more relaxed rules make things easy for busy, young professionals
  • Walkability – Livable, walkable, workable locations are in demand among the millennial generation
  • “Standard” amenities – Millennials are looking for more than just a stove and refrigerator. Wi-fi, a dishwasher, an in-unit washer and dryer and even bike racks are expected amenities for today’s apartments and townhomes

How does a developer meet all of these needs needs while still keeping an affordable rent rate? That’s where location comes in — small cities like York are prime areas for affordable development.

Why focus on small cities?

  • Real-estate affordability – As an up-and-coming small city, real-estate costs in areas such as York are often far lower than those in a major metro area
  • Ideal proximity to other major cities – A key selling point for millennials is proximity to other major cities. For York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C. and even New York City are within a 3-hour car ride
  • Community encouragement and collaboration – York fosters a tight-knit group of individuals who are working toward a common goal of downtown revitalization, which often leads to generous support when taking on new projects
  • Better relationships – In a small city, officials with permits, zoning and even the Redevelopment Authority know developers by name, and are often helpful to cutting through the levels of red tape
  • Ripe for development – The region is evolving into a thriving metro area through various efforts that will attract millennial residents

In preserving and redeveloping historic buildings throughout York City we can salvage the existing framework and façade of the homes to save on initial building costs while also keeping the charming character of these spaces intact. The interior of the buildings is then transformed to cater to millennial expectations – a win-win for small cities, developers and millennial tenants.