CHICAGO—The improving jobs market has certainly allowed many experts and developers to feel even more optimistic about the prospects for commercial real estate in 2015. This includes the residential market, but changes are underway in the sector and will shape in the coming years how developers take advantage of the improving conditions.

Experts project, for example, that millennials will make up a third of the country’s adult population by 2020, and residential developers have taken notice. But lingering economic troubles has caused young people to hold off on buying their first home. In fact, according to data from the US Census, the homeownership rate for those 35-and-under dropped to 35.9% in the second quarter of 2014, its lowest level in two decades, and held steady at 36% in the third quarter, meaning this group will drive demand for rental units in 2015.

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