The New Amenities in Multifamily: What Renters Actually Want

Smart technology, sustainability, luxury and convenience drive the latest trends.

Outdoor seating of Bell Marymoor Park, a 222-unit property in Redmond, Wash. Image courtesy of Bell Partners

Outdoor seating of Bell Marymoor Park, a 222-unit property in Redmond, Wash. Image courtesy of Bell Partners

Multifamily amenities have changed significantly during the past few years, especially after the pandemic has shifted residents’ needs. The time when a fitness center, clubhouse and pool could satisfy is long gone. Nowadays, renters look for a living experience that combines it all—from luxury to practicality and sustainability.

Think about it as a hotel, but with a homey feel where you have all the amenities of a 5-star resort yet feel the comfort of a home. In other words, renters these days want it all—and they want it yesterday! But what drives interest multifamily amenities and how has it changed over the past years?

“I think the biggest shift over the past few years that property managers should be aware of is sustainable features and amenities are becoming the expected standard,” said Senior Vice President of RPM Living Lindsay Jacobs. “Renters are seeking communities that align with their way of living and properties that can cater to that is where they will go.”

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On another hand, Cindy Clare, COO of Bell Partners, believes that many current trends have emerged because of the pandemic, including the need for flexible space, package delivery space and strong Wi-Fi throughout the community. “Some may go away, but that remains to be seen,” she added. The truth is that the pandemic has changed a lot of people’s needs when it comes to their living situation, and that is still influencing how property managers are trying to adapt their strategy to meet their demands.

Let’s break down some of the top features that attract renters. Spoiler alert: sustainability and plenty of space are a must!

Smart features all the way

More property managers are including smart features in their communities. Amenities such as temperature control, automatic lighting and security systems are gaining popularity among renters. They like these features because they align with their sustainability and safety concerns—they use less energy and produce less waste. For instance, smart thermostats can help control heating and cooling systems, preventing energy loss while spaces are vacant.

“Amenities such as bee and butterfly gardens, herb walls, EV charging stations, SMART home technology and refillable water stations continue to increase and will see more demand as renters become more conditioned to seeking support from their apartment communities,” mentioned Jacobs.

Sustainability and green living

The Keegan at Mission Glen in Richmond, Texas features EV charging stations

Hermosa Village, a 238-unit community in Leander, Texas. Image courtesy of RPM Living

Eco-friendly living and green features have become a major concern for renters, especially the younger generation. Developers are trying to incorporate composting facilities, solar panels and electrical vehicle charging stations to reduce energy consumption. Some of them are also using sustainable materials in their designs, such as green roofs or water harvesting systems, aiming for LEED or WELL certifications.

“Many operators have had sustainable practices like recycling, low energy appliances and other sustainable products and practices,” Clare explained. “We continue to expand these practices in our daily operations, not only because our residents expect them, but because it is the right thing to do.”

Jacobs believes that renters, and therefore property managers are looking to help the greater good. “While we’ve seen the trend of reusable totes and water bottles on the rise during the last few years, renters are increasingly more concerned about their carbon footprint and more conscious of communities that are like-minded,” she added.

According to Jacobs, some ways RPM Living incorporates sustainable practices throughout their communities include:

  • Installing water-conserving, low-flow faucets, shower heads and toilets and Energy Star appliances
  • Using smart thermostats in apartment homes and common areas
  • Installing Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, hand dryers in common area restrooms in lieu of paper towels and water bottle fill stations
  • HVAC system conversions to R410 and other high-efficiency systems.

Some other even simpler ways to include green features in a community include changing to paperless billing or files, using eco-friendly and green products, creating a trash management system that includes recycling, as well as using high-efficiency boilers.

READ ALSO: New PropTech Considerations for Sustainability & Environmental Impact Goals

Collaborative, outdoor and pet space

Community garden at Hermosa Village, a 238-unit community in Leander, Texas. Image courtesy of RPM Living

Community garden at Vitri, a 300-unit property in Scottsdale, Ariz. Image courtesy of RPM Living

Ample outdoor space is a must for multifamily renters, especially in urban markets where green spaces are often limited. Rooftop gardens, courtyards and terraces provide a retreat are only a few amenities you can add to attract renters. These outdoor spaces offer opportunities for socializing, relaxation and even activities like yoga classes or community events.

“Collaborative co-working spaces and amenities that make working from home convenient have become increasingly popular. Residents continue to look for opportunities to connect and network with each other and providing the space to make that happen is key to resident satisfaction,” Jacobs said. Clare also mentioned that flexible spaces are important for residents, particularly since the pandemic, as most people want to get out of their home offices and living area.

As part of its effort to meet renters’ needs, Bell Partners is also focusing on pet-friendly amenities, especially in the outdoors. Pet-friendly amenities can range from pet parks or designated play areas where dogs can socialize and exercise to pet grooming stations and even pet concierge services. These amenities create a sense of community among pet owners and provide convenience. “During the pandemic, people were home and decided it was time to get a puppy or kitten,” Clare said. “The number of pets in our buildings increased as a result and we had to provide services and amenities to accommodate them, including outdoor space.”

Amenities that never go old

Although multifamily amenities are evolving, some some traditional ones, never go out of style. The truth is that there are some essentials out there that renters can’t go without, such as laundry facilities and ample parking. The same goes for strong Wi-Fi and package delivery space.

“Wi-Fi throughout the property has become critical,” Clare said. “We are seeing more managed Wi-Fi products with greater bandwidth, and not just in the amenities, but throughout the building and even outdoor spaces. Residents need this to work remotely, as well, as for streaming services.” With the growth of work-from-home, people need good internet that they can rely on and property managers are trying to meet that demand.

On another hand, having ample package delivery space also contributes to a more efficient and secure delivery process and is a must, as well. “A few years ago, we were worried about having enough space for package deliveries,” Clare added. “Now we need to account for much more, including grocery and meal deliveries. Any service that saves time and effort for our residents is always seen as a positive.” As part of Bell Partners’ effort to include more delivery space, the company has installed food delivery lockers at their properties for DoorDash and Grubhub orders where residents can receive the food in a locker with a code to access it.

Marketing strategies to attract and retain residents

There are several things that you can do marketing-wise to appeal to residents of all ages. Even more now, when you have so many channels to build a presence on and when you can communicate effectively with existing or potential renters. One of the aspects you should pay attention to is engaging residents in your community.

“The biggest strategy that yields the highest impact is an approach that blends the most customer-facing channels with the most impactful community-focused support,” Jacobs said. “Properties that give something back to the community—and allow their residents to give back to their community—create lasting impact and in turn drive their own word-of-mouth marketing to retain and engage residents.” RPM Living utilizes RPM Serves, the firm’s charitable branch, which gives residents the chance to serve local communities and organizations through various initiatives.

Clare believes that an effective marketing strategy is digital, relying more on local listings and reviews rather than advertising sites. The company is also turning to more digital and AI-powered tools to ensure resident communication. “We want to meet the customer where they want to be met,” she added. “This means having tools available for residents 24/7 as well as human interaction when the resident wants to speak to a live person or do an in-person tour. Although they don’t replace the human element, the digital, virtual and AI tools allow for on-demand responses and more consistency.”

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