I am very, very enthusiastic about the remote-worker-rental model because I believe it is a force that will be disrupting the United States—right about… now. And I believe that because I am a real estate agent who helps clients in Denver and Colorado Springs, both of which are markets that are massively appealing to the newly liberated. I also believe this because I have had four clients since September purchase in the Colorado Springs market even though their jobs are in New York City (two of them), Oakland, and Boston.
While my clients have already decided to make the move, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be discussing how you—the investor/owner of a property in a desired location—should market to people who haven’t decided to move yet but are testing the waters.
When thinking about how to market to remote workers, it’s important to consider what they want and who they are. For what they want, check out my article “Top 5 Features Remote Workers Look for in Rentals.” Also, check out the comments, as there are some interesting insights from people currently doing this model.
Now let’s talk about who these remote workers are.
Demographics of Remote Workers
I pulled these demographics from an infographic about digital nomads, which was the remote worker before COVID made us all remote workers. Some of these numbers may change on the margins, but I still think they are a good place to start.
- 51% female, 47% male
- 55% completed college
- 28% completed graduate school and/or a masters
- Most of them are between 25-34 years old
- 20% of them are 35-44 years old
- The majority have been location independent for 6 months to a year
What Real Estate Investors Should Consider About Remote Workers
First things first, that final bullet is the most interesting to me. We are 8 months out from the start of the pandemic, and I’m assuming everyone else spent the first 4 months the same way I did: freaking out, binge-watching Tiger King, painting their dining room, and then re-evaluating every single one of their decisions in life.
By that metric, we are only 4 months into people considering what life could be now that they aren’t tethered to a location anymore, so a shift is coming.
Now let’s do a deeper dive on what these stats tell us, and yes, I’m about to make some huge generalizations because I can’t speak to every specific want or interest.
How to Appeal to Women
If part of a couple, women are likely the deciding factor on which place to book. The women are definitely going to care more about the aesthetic of the place, which to me means they will be less likely to rent a basement unit but more likely to pay more for something slightly nicer.
Ditto on safety, although this metric can be hard to tell from photos or remotely. I think location will also be important, but it’s hard to say if preference will be access to a natural feature (e.g., mountains, ocean) or a city.
I think women will be attracted to a place that has the potential to extend the lease if they decide they would like to stay. I also think women will care more about being able to bring their animals with them and on-site laundry will be a must.
Key Takeaways: Knowing this, I’d advertise to women with the following strategy. The lead photo should be one that reflects the cutest part of the space you are renting (probably the workspace or the living room). The headline of the ad should speak to its proximity to something desirable (e.g., city, mountains, ocean, etc.). The first line should address things they will really care about: parking (even if it’s not an issue where you live, it may be an issue where they are leaving and be top of mind), pet friendliness, AC, ability to extend the lease.
How to Appeal to Men
It’s been my experience that the man’s age dictates a little more about what type of place they are willing to rent out. If the guy is below 30, I think he will be more open to a dark basement unit with limited light and a stripped-down kitchen. He is not concerned about the appeal of the place as much as he is concerned about having proximity to the outdoors and paying less. Males that are 30+ likely do care slightly more about a nicer looking space and are willing to pay for that luxury.
Here are a few other things I speculate will be important to the male demographic. I think men care about their privacy. I think a grill or the option of a grill will be attractive. Likewise, I could see proximity to public transportation and/or a nearby grocery store being a benefit for guys who want to keep their costs low. They also see this as a better way to experience their environment.
Key Takeaways: Knowing this, if I had a basement apartment, I’d make my lead photo not necessarily of the place but of whatever they will be close to. Since the unit is bare-bones, focus on what is outside, rather than what is inside, the unit. In Colorado Springs, that is the mountains/rock climbing/hiking/skiing/etc., so we’re talking Pikes Peak or Garden of the Gods. The headline would also say something like “Half a mile to Mountain Hiking and Climbing” or something. Call attention to what’s best about the place and then get into the lesser details: laundromat nearby, private entrance, grocery store within a mile, etc.
How to Appeal to Everyone
Both sexes will want wifi, wifi, wifi. And for a lot of locations, people will also want AC and an on-site washer/dryer. (I think the AC is not necessarily a dealbreaker, but I think not having a washer/dryer on-site will be a dealbreaker for women.)
I highly recommend being pet-friendly because this increases your renter pool. A cable package that allows your guests to watch live sports will be attractive to a lot of people, as well, but not something others want to pay for.
You know better than anyone what is best about your place. Speak to that, but also think about who would want to rent out your place and what their motivations might be.
Weigh-in with a comment below.