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Justin Cleary | BreadBox

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Top 5 Amenities Renters REALLY Want (and 5 they don't)

Top 5 Amenities Renters REALLY Want (and 5 they don't)

Everyone in the industry these days is talking about amenities. What renters want, what they don't, and what they will want in the future. The problem is, most developers aren't listening to the actual renters. Over my career, I have spoken with 100's if not 1000's of renters, listening to their wants and needs for a place to call home. 

Contrary to popular belief, not every renter is a millennial who wants a smoothie bar in their bathroom. The vast majority of renters have simple needs in a building or community when it comes to amenities. 

Real Closet Space

When I say "real," I think we all know what we are talking about. Not the closets with one bar that can fit a shirt and jeans. We're talking about walk-in closets or ones with built-in storage. Renters these days are older or moving from established households and have more clothing. Many developers are "afraid" to take a portion of a bedroom to enlarge a closet, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, I think most of us would like larger closets and a smaller bedroom. 

More Storage

This is a must-have for most renters these days. Unlike prior years, when renters were younger with very few things, today's renters are older and have amassed a lot of items. It's important to give residents enough space to make a difference, especially when units are small. I've never seen a renter say "I'm going to give up all my possessions so I can live in this community."

Dog Walking Area

As buildings and communities start accepting pets, dog walking areas are very important. It's highly convenient, safer than walking your dog outside the community during evening hours and can be a great place for residents to socialize with other residents. Great additions to these areas are dog washing stations, disposal spaces, and doggie water fountains. 

Real Fitness Center

I'm not talking about a treadmill a TV and some mirrors here. Developers need to invest in full fitness centers. Renters often look at the cost of the apartment and try to figure out if they can save money by dropping their gym memberships. Want to increase your rent roll? Add a great gym.

Onsite Child Playroom / Daycare

One of the best amenities added in the last couple of years to some developments are children's playrooms. This is a game changer for families with small children not yet in school, but needing an escape from their apartments. I've seen parents actually choose one location over another just for this space. Some of the better complexes have even started operating an on-site day care, which in my opinion, would be the ultimate amenity for parents. 

Amenities Renters Don't Want

In a push to seem more "hip" or "relevant," developers have opted to add some amenities that seem like they add value, but in fact, take space away from the amenities renters really want. If you have the space to add these AND all the entries above, that's a win, but a lot of these amenities are underutilized and add nothing to your communities bottom line.

  • Coffee Bar - There are probably 1-2 residents per day that use this, so it doesn't really justify the expense or upkeep required
  • Business Center - Can't remember last time I saw anyone using one of these. 
  • On-Site Kitchen - While nice in theory, once again, is only used on rare occasions. 
  • Movie Rooms - This is a "maybe" in my mind. Great for sporting events, etc., but usually ends up being prime real estate that can be used for something more "valuable."
  • Putting Greens - Once again, I don't think I've ever seen a resident use these. Could be an excellent place for a dog park instead?
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  • Laura Bruyere

    Great article & spot on. I would probably add package lockers as a wanted amenity.

  • Scott

    How about Gigabit internet/wifi? I'd much rather have this provided by the apartment as part of my rent than dealing with Comcast or AT&T directly.

  • Justin Cleary

    Scott

    Hi Scott,

    I'm with you! Would love to see more communities add this as an amenity. I think in the future, we will see more communities add this as new delivery tech enters the market.

  • Andrea

    This article is spot on. Communities should also invest in ways to bring the people living in the communities together by adding park benches, natural greens, those doggy bag stations, a local community garden, and walking areas within the community that are not too disruptive to the homes surrounding.

  • Tracey Hopkins

    Yes bigger closets and storage space but NOT SMALLER BEDROOMS!
    Ironically, after 34 years in the industry, I am a renter now. There is no way, as an empty nester who got left with all three kids "stuff", am I going to fit in any of the bedrooms when they don't have at least a 14 - 15 foot wall and another 12- 14 feet for the master, as well as decent sized spares with, yes, a lot of closet space to stash stuff. Here in Frisco, TX., the fastest growing city in the nation, the apartments are so high priced that one can get a better situation renting a house (a HUGE shadow market). Rent would be palatable if the units were generous in their size and the mandatory green space was better utilized.

  • Tracey,
    here in Washington state, people typically have to pay more for larger bedrooms and more storage. Newer constructed apartments have lack luster bedroom sizing and storage accommodation. It's the older constructed apartment homes that have the space people need. However, people need to consider that living in an apartment community requires a large adjustment. hauling all of your children's belongings with you will cost you more in the long run. The less is more mentality really needs to sink in with people these days.

  • Tracey Hopkins

    Andrea

    Hi Andrea - I appreciate your opinions and understand where you are coming from as my experience is also in many metro areas outside of Texas including NYC, NJ, DC and San Francisco and certainly younger, less congested metros such as Denver, Phoenix, most of Florida - I say this to let you know that while things are bigger in Texas, not newly constructed bedrooms. At minimum a 12 ft wall, preferably a 14 ft in master bedrooms. Working with developers (so I also know to consider the cost of land and density) I almost always find useable dead space. And to stay fresh, I lease as much as I can and after 30 years the two hardest issues to overcome are buried bathrooms and 10x10 bedrooms.
    Now on getting them to bring less stuff, well, that's how we keep those many storage units full, eh? Love your feedback and thanks for commenting!

  • Tracy - Can you clarify what you mean by buried bathrooms? As in not enough storage space/vanity counter room?

  • And NOTE my reduced minimum wall sizes!

  • Sure! For one bedrooms particularly, it's having to go through a bedroom to get to the bathroom.

  • Ah yes. those strange things

  • Bill Robertson

    What's your opinion on tennis courts? It seems no one plays tennis anymore, and courts take up substantial real estate.

  • Justin Cleary

    Bill Robertson

    Bill,

    Hi Bill,

    I agree. If the courts are being used, then I would keep them. However, if they are rarely used, I would include that space in any repositioning plan. As for new construction, I would advise developing that space so that it could be used for several different sports (i.e basketball, handball etc).

  • Laura Bruyere

    Bill Robertson

    I've seem many communities make their unused tennis/sports courts into dog parks! Fairly affordable & they get tons of use from them. (providing your property is pet friendly)

  • Tracey Hopkins

    Nationwide, Tennis Courts are rarely used and not worth it for multifamily. People who play tend to play at clubs. Often those courts are converted to multi-sport court. Kids will be kids and absolutely ride on any surface with their wheels which happens far more than residents playing tennis.
    BUT they are absolutely awesome for property ID!

  • Just my 2 cents - even though nationwide the trend is down, there are still different demographics that use it. My community tennis court is actually right across the street and I can see it being used all the time. So it probably is a case by case situation.

  • Justin Cleary

    Brent Williams

    Brent,

    Agree. I think it's tough to apply a strategy across the board. Regionally and demographically, it's a case by case basis. I've seen communities where courts are used all the time and seen communities where they are basically used as big wheel course for kids! (which I think they should have that for adults, but that's another discussion)..HA. I think with new development, the option of having a space that can be utilized for a variety of sports might be a best bet.

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