Over the past decade, the single-family rental sector has bloomed from a niche market driven by mom-and-pop entities to a full-blown sector. The pandemic turned it into one of the top desired housing options for renters and one of the top opportunities for investors. The SFR resident base continues to expand, fueled primarily by the Millennial generation, which needs more space for their families and for home offices.
An attractive feature of SFRs is the amenity package, because, unlike traditional single-family homes, SFRs form communities managed by the same owner. Depending on the location of SFR communities, the amenities can be varied and quite similar to the one offered at multifamily communities.
For one SFR community, “walking trails, dog parks, green space and playgrounds are the most frequented by residents, and therefore the most important,” Ting Qiao, Wan Bridge’s CEO told Multi-Housing News. “While a community pool is attractive to potential residents, the utilization is often low, especially compared to the amenities mentioned above, which are used on a daily basis.”
The private outdoor area is one of the more alluring features of SFRs. People like to spend time outdoors, in a backyard, or in a little garden, and spending time outside improves mental health. Having an outdoor area helps just with that and also provides a safe way to connect with family and friends.
Outdoor recreation areas were already in demand prior to the pandemic, as people looked for ways to be more active and improve their health while having fun. And during the pandemic the demand was even higher.
Additionally, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Associations, 70 percent of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, own a pet. This is up from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted, and 67 percent in 2019. Dogs remained the preferred pet, accounting for 69 million; cats were next in line—45.3 million. So, it’s safe to say that dogs and cats are family.
Unsurprisingly, dog-friendly properties are a standard in apartment communities, which means that renters choosing to live in an SFR will ask for the same ‘standard’ package in their SFR community. Dog parks at SFRs are a popular amenity because they help build community among renters, and they’re a strong draw for prospective residents who own dogs. Here, dogs and their owners have their own enclosed space to get together—the dogs have protection, security and freedom to play, and the owner has peace of mind. In addition, a dog park is beneficial to renters who don’t own dogs, too, because it helps keep other common spaces pet- and waste-free.
People also understand that staying active means staying healthy, but it’s easier to stay active when the gym is just a few minutes away. An on-site fitness center saves people valuable time they would spend traveling to and from the facility. Membership fees here are lower than at a standalone gym. In addition, there is a lower risk of overcrowding, and most communities offer an amenity booking platform in accordance with the current COVID-19 requirements.
Another popular SFR communal amenity is a pool. The modern outdoor pools are amazing outdoor areas featuring water sports, cabanas, sandy beaches and the like, making the time spent there feel like a vacation.
“In terms of amenities inside the home, the most popular feature for our residents is space,” Qiao said. “Our residents prioritize the opportunity to live in a home that offers space: The more bedrooms, the better. High ceilings and open-concept floorplans also provide more room to live and grow. Additional amenities featured in our homes include a fenced-in yard, attached garage and in-home storage and laundry, which are also top of mind when it comes to attracting potential residents and retaining existing ones.”
In-unit laundry is also becoming a standard amenity. Having an in-unit laundry allows the residents to wash their clothes whenever it is convenient for them. Not to mention that it increases their privacy.
SFRs can also be eco-conscious. They can offer sustainable and cost-effective features such as double-pane energy efficient windows, energy-efficient appliances and water-conscious plumbing. These green building features cut down on utility costs, which will greatly appeal to residents.