Rethinking Multifamily Amenities – What Do People Want Now?
Multi-family living is becoming more of a long-term living situation for many individuals, mostly due to its flexibility, convenience, and connectedness. More specifically, apartment living is historically attributed to younger generations or those of lower-income. Because of its flexibility and lower financial commitment, apartment living is often treated as more of a transitional housing option for those working towards purchasing a home or residence. However, trends are showing a rise in ‘renters by choice’; people who rent due to the advantages of multi-family housing, like flexible lease commitments, a sense of community, and attractive features. Amenities are quickly becoming the determining factor for renters choosing one property over another, leading to what’s referred to as ‘Amenity Wars’; a competitive landscape of developers trying to outbuild one another for the ‘best’ amenities to attract and retain renters.
In an effort to better understand what those desired amenities are, developers are looking to the younger generations, and more specifically, their lifestyles. Young professionals and families still dominate the multi-family housing market and, therefore, their lifestyles drive developers to think differently about how they approach amenities.
Trends in amenities have changed over time and it can be challenging to predict which amenity trends will stay and which are just that, trends.
Something we can more easily predict, however, is that amenities are evolving to reflect and cater to the younger generations. One obvious and consistent trend to monitor and consider is technology. As technology advances, so should the technological amenities incorporated to serve renters. An additional contributor to the advancement of tech is the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the work-from-home environment. Developers have quickly learned that their projects need to be equipped to support the technological needs of many of their residents working from their homes; whether it be ensuring each unit has on-site offices, meeting rooms, or enclave spaces for residents to utilize. Another piece of technology is smart-home controls. We’re quickly moving toward a space where we can access, and request, just about everything from our phones, and your home should be no different. Many multi-family buildings offer smart-home controls that can be controlled right from your smartphone; from thermostats to lighting, to paying rent, to package and mail notifications. Convenience is key, and when you can control this many aspects of your home with a touch of a finger, it doesn’t get more convenient than that!
Another amenity type that is gaining traction is service-based amenities. Today’s renters are more entrepreneurial, work-focused, and active, so when they’re not working, they want to be enjoying their time, not spending it doing chores. Therefore, developers are looking toward service-based amenities, such as dog walking or grocery delivery. This demographic also values the support of local and small businesses. Some developers have found an efficient way to blend these two concepts, a service-based amenity with the appeal of local business, through third-party partnerships. For example, rather than having ‘things’ like a gym or a laundry room, offerings become enhanced through ‘services’ like a membership to the gym across the street, free pick-up and drop-off from the dry-cleaners next door, or a discounted rate for a meal delivery service.
Lastly, serving as a defining characteristic of multi-family residences, and a significant influence for renters, is the sense of community and social environment that comes with living in an apartment or condo development. Amenities that contribute to an authentic sense of community can be very attractive to renters. A self-serve coffee bar near the lobby can foster impromptu introductions before heading out off to work, or a weeknight patio happy hour could lead to valuable networking opportunities. Additionally, some developments have incorporated a concierge service to not only serve as a consistent resource for residents but also to organize and manage social events specifically designed to bring together residents and cultivate connections.
A pool and a gym won’t cut it anymore. Residents want amenities that cater to and foster their way of life—on demand. At the end of the day, the goal of a multi-family development is to attract and retain residents and sign and renew leases. To do that, they have to think creatively and strategically about how to best improve the resident’s experience while also setting themselves apart from their competition. One of the most effective ways to do that is by balancing the right suite of amenities for their market and demographic.