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Nov. 21, 2013

Special Report: NMHC/Kingsley Resident Lifestyle Survey Yields Unexpected Findings

By Keat Foong, Executive Editor

Dallas—The results of the NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Lifestyle Super Survey delivered some surprises.

The survey, which was sent to over 200,000 residents, was released at National Multi Housing Council’s (NMHC) OpTech 2013 conference during a general session titled, “The Residents Have Spoken: The 2013 NMHC/Kingsley Survey of Apartment Resident Preferences.” David C. Smith, vice president and COO, Kingsley Associates, presented the survey results.

The most popular amenities among apartment residents are high-speed Internet access and patio balconies, according to the survey. Each of these amenities garnered 93 percent of the vote. The third most desired amenity were in-unit washer/dryers, favored by 88 percent of respondents, followed by garbage disposals, microwave ovens and refrigerators with ice makers.

Among the unexpected results of the survey was the finding that stove hoods are indeed more desired by apartment customers than either granite countertops or kitchen islands. Among these three options, kitchen islands are the least favored. Stove hoods garnered 75 percent of the vote, compared to 71 percent for granite countertops and 69 percent for kitchen islands.

What also appeared to be surprising for attendees was the maintenance response time that was expected by residents. Most respondents—49 percent—expected a maintenance response time of two days, compared to 42 percent of respondents that wanted a maintenance response time of one day, and only 10 percent for three days, according to the NMHC/Kingsley survey.

“Is this game changing? It should be,” said John Selindh, group vice president, Sales and Marketing, BRE Properties, who was a panelist at the session. He said the study suggested that a 40-hour response time for non-emergency repairs may be acceptable. That arrangement may in turn enable maintenance staff to circulate among more properties. Panelists suggested that if the industry as whole offered the two-day response time, that option would be acceptable to residents.

The NMHC/Kingsley survey found that a whopping 70 percent of residents do not expect a community-specific Facebook page, and only 30 percent require one. However, panelists insisted that a social media presence is vital, nevertheless. Jennifer Staciokas, vice president, Marketing and Training, at Lincoln Proeprty Co., said that having a social media presence is an important part of online reputation management. Facebook could offer a first avenue of complaint.

Kevin Thompson, senior vice president, Marketing, at Bell Partners Inc., said it is not necessarily the case that residents want to be a friend of the community on Facebook, and agreed that his company placed less emphasis on social sites and more on reputation management.

As far as expectations for green amenities, only 29 percent of residents expressed no interest in green principles and practices, whereas 71 percent said they had some interest. Thirty-five percent of residents expressed a preference for both green principles and green practices to be adopted, while 23 percent required green practices and 14 percent required green design. Selindh noted residents are increasingly expecting green features, as a way to save money, but they do not necessarily want to pay more for these amenities.

As to the frequency of community hosted events, the survey found that most residents—40 percent—preferred quarterly events, followed closely by respondents who wanted monthly events (37 percent). Only 16 percent of residents wanted events only two times a year. The most popular community activity turned out to be wine tasting, with 49 percent of the vote. Cookouts and movie nights each garnered 44 percent of the votes.

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