By Lecia Anderson
Having best-in-class apartment homes is only half the battle in attracting and retaining renters. To get prospects to sign new leases and current residents to renew theirs, operators must have common-area amenities that align with renters’ interests and preferred lifestyles.
Today’s residents are dedicated to their pets, wellness, technology and the environment, so apartment operators would be well advised to make sure their communities accommodate these needs. Below is a summary of some of the common-area amenities that do exactly that.
Residents today consider their dogs and cats more than just pets. They truly think of them as part of the family, and providing their four-legged friends with a top-notch quality of life is extremely high on their priority list. Therefore, apartment operators have to do more than just simply allow animals to live in their communities. They have to provide an enriching environment for pets.
Off-leash dog parks and dog-washing stations are becoming more common at apartment communities. At JVM, we outfit our pet parks with attractive landscaping, energy-efficient LED lighting, double-gated entrances and exits, curved enclosures (meaning no right angles) to help prevent “dog-clog” and injuries, and water stations. We work with a designer to make sure they truly create a stimulating environment for dogs; as a result, the parks typically include log tunnels, balance beams and wood ramps.
We have found multiple benefits to these parks. First off, they are certainly attractive to dog-owning prospects, and they also allow our canine residents to get their much-needed daily dose of exercise. They also give our pet-owning residents the chance to meet each other and develop friendships, which in turn will strengthen the bond they feel with our properties and encourage renewals
On-demand fitness classes
Health and wellness have long been priorities for residents, and 24-hour fitness centers are now fairly standard common-area amenities. But progressive operators have recently improved these centers through the offering of on-demand fitness solutions.
This technology can allow residents to take virtually any kind of fitness class – Pilates, resistance training, yoga, spinning – at any time of day. Besides providing maximum convenience for residents, they also spare communities the expense of bringing fitness instructors onsite.
Package delivery systems
Online shopping has exploded in recent years, meaning more packages are being delivered to apartment communities than ever before. Furthermore, in today’s “now, now, now” world, residents want to pick up their packages the day they are delivered. That can be hard to do when, as is so often the case, the leasing office’s weekday hours conflict with many residents’ work schedules.
As a result, forward-thinking communities are installing rooms or locker systems that give residents 24-hour access to their package deliveries. Expect demand for this amenity to only grow in the future.
Attractive areas for socializing
Apartment residents today–particularly Millennials and members of Generation Z–are intensely social creatures. They need spaces to relax and interact with friends, family members and their neighbors.
Accordingly, communities should consider building clubhouses that feature coffee bars, community kitchens, co-working spaces and sizable, comfortable sitting areas. Residents also love rooftop patios, and they still want an attractive pool area. Finally, many operators have converted volleyball courts – which, for whatever reason, just aren’t as popular as they once were – into outdoor social areas that include grills and fire pits.
Electric-car charging stations
Environmental awareness is undoubtedly on the rise, and more residents are buying or leasing electric cars. To give you some sense of the growing demand: according to a summer 2017 forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, electric vehicles will account for 54 percent of global new car sales by 2040. Just last year, the organization said the vehicles would account for 35 percent of sales by the same year. By installing these charging stations, operators can send a powerful signal to prospects and residents alike that they share their commitment to sustainability.
There’s no mistaking the fact that today’s residents consider modern technology a vital component of their day-to-day lives. Operators therefore should not only provide high-speed Internet service in apartment homes, but they need to have strong, free Wi-Fi service in common areas as well to allow residents to easily stream videos and listen to music. And don’t forget to equip these areas with a sufficient number of charging outlets with USB ports as well.
Attracting and retaining residents is about more than the quality of the apartment homes themselves. Renters want to live in a community that understands and supports their interests and values, and common-area amenities are a great way for operators to show that they do.
Lecia Anderson is vice president of operations for JVM Realty Corp., an Oak Brook, Ill.-based apartment owner and operator.