An Inside Look at What Renters Like, Love and Can’t Live Without

Apartments.com recently hosted industry insiders who provided a comprehensive look at what matters most during a renters’ home search, including the features and community amenities that they can’t live without.

Interesting data was shared in a recent Apartments.com Apartmentology webinar, featuring Jagan Arumugham, Senior Director and Head of Analytics & Data Science at CoStar Group, Margette Hepfner, COO of Residential Management at Lincoln Property Company, Sarah Yaussi, Vice President of Business Strategy at NMHC, and Katie Jeffirs, Senior Survey Team Manager at Grace Hill, Inc.

This panel of experts reviewed survey answers from renters across the country to determine the most recent trends and preferences on housing priorities, options in flex living, Wi-Fi connectivity, package deliveries, pet amenities and more. The pandemic has no-doubt played a role in many recent changes in preferences, but renters have always searched for homes that are right for them, and there’s a growing array of options to meet individual needs.

From the survey, based on consumers’ most recent search, 57% wanted a traditional apartment, 23% wanted a townhouse and 19% wanted a single-family rental. Housing supply is a critical issue, and is expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future, but single-family rental development is looking to help fill that need.

Interest in a renter membership “club,” where renters can live in many places as part of their lease, measured well. A significant number of people who moved during the pandemic did so because they could work where they wanted, and wanted the flexibility to move based on need or season.

Research shows that if people move, the two reasons are price and more space, and in the age of live-work-play at home, renters are looking for flexibility. Versatility rules, as nearly two-thirds said flex space was either important or extremely important in their search. Advertising on Apartments.com is advantageous in this regard, as creating a Listing of the Future ensures that unit-level details such as flex spaces are highlighted and easy for renters to find.

When considering smart-home technology, renters’ interest is tied to its ability to add convenience or to drive savings. Survey results show that the most popular smart feature is the thermostat; 70% say they are interested or wouldn’t rent without it. Sensor technology such as leak detection or water-saving features were also popular, with 67% indicating an interest.

When it comes to connectivity, 86% said reliable cell service was the most important thing they considered when making their decision to rent. 90% said they wouldn’t rent if cell service and Wi-Fi connection wasn’t reliable. Yaussi added, “There is no doubt that there’s greater reliance on connectivity and that will only increase. This is a priority area for operators.”

Another big change brought on by the pandemic concerns packages and deliveries. Frequency of online shopping and perishable grocery deliveries have skyrocketed, warranting a change in package pick-up preferences. Self-service pickup solutions such as package lockers or a package room are the preferred options.

Living with a pet is an important renter preference, as one-third of all renters indicated they have a pet. Arumugham said Apartments.com receives twice as many searches for dog-friendly spaces than for cats, and Hepfner said many communities have moved away from breed restrictions and weight limits. Having pet-friendly outdoor spaces is crucial, Hepfner said, but it’s also important to provide some type of outdoor space for all residents.

With fitness centers, 70% say they wouldn’t rent without one, although only about 40% actually use them. Survey results show it is advantageous to include cardio, treadmills and above all else, free weights. “Bike storage and kitchens are also important,” Hepfner said. “It’s important to ask the renters what they want.”

To learn even more about the latest renter trends, watch the full Apartmentology webinar on Apartments.com.

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