The Problem With Some Amenities

Theoretically, you could have a community that is 100-percent leased even though it doesn’t offer any amenities. After all, amenities are just the icing—the “cake” of an apartment is a safe place where people can live. That’s all. And plenty of apartment buildings are just that—apartments with no frills.

But, as we all know, the icing is always the best part. (For cakes, I mean. And apartments, in this metaphor. But not for Oreos. The cookies are the best part of an Oreo, not the icing, and I will defend this to the death.) Especially if there are a lot of other, similar, apartment communities around, you have to have good amenities just to stay competitive. But this is where you can run into some problems.

Some of the newest amenities could wind up being fads. (Remember when every community had to have a tennis court?) Or they can sound awesome in theory, but then no one ends up using it. (That golf simulator is looking a little dusty, isn’t it?)

The problem with this is that though you might attract renters at first, eventually these amenities can end up being a waste of money and space. Plus, if you’re bringing in potential renters, these could even be a deterrent because you look out of date. Or, even if it’s a cool amenity, if no one is using it during peak hours, it could be off putting. Of course, if you don’t have the “hot” amenity, then people will wonder why you don’t have it, or be disappointed. Like, they can totally see themselves doing Zumba every day if you had a room dedicated to that. But then if you have it, of course no one shows up for the class because, eh, it’s been a long day, and Netflix added the entire series of Friends, so, you know. It’s a Catch-22. I think. I never read that book. It’s annoying, is what it is.

And then, on the other end of the spectrum, there are the amenities that are so popular that they’re constantly crowded, like a pool during the summer or the margarita machine (which probably isn’t a real amenity anywhere, but wouldn’t that be amazing?). I suppose there are worse problems to have. But what about for the residents? Their rent or amenity fees go towards their usage of those things, and if the amenities are always too busy to enjoy, then they might just decide not to renew.

So how do you find a balance? For starters, do your research. Find out what the hottest amenities are, and weigh the options to see if it’s worth implementing them. You could poll your residents, but then you run the chance of people listing their “nice to haves,” which, again, they won’t actually bother using. See what your competitors are doing and how successful those amenities are at their properties. And be very aware of your community itself. Residents at student communities might like kegerators in every room, but maybe people in family-friendly communities won’t use them as much. The most important thing is to be flexible. Just because you really want a certain amenity doesn’t mean it’ll work for your community. Keep an eye on the market and on your residents, and see what they really respond to.

As for the really crowded amenities, a sign up sheet could help. Or signs up giving a time limit or that state the rules (for example, residents can’t put a bag down to claim a pool chair and then leave the pool area). Or, you can have your staff do the rounds, and if it seems like there’s a long line for, say at treadmill, then they can be the “bad guy” to step in if there is one resident who seems to be hogging it.

What are your popular amenities? What do you do about amenities that aren’t used anymore or are too popular?

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor