Everyone in the industry these days is talking about amenities. What renters want, what they don't, and what they will want in the future. The problem is, most developers aren't listening to the actual renters. Over my career, I have spoken with 100's if not 1000's of renters, listening to their wants and needs for a place to call home.
Contrary to popular belief, not every renter is a millennial who wants a smoothie bar in their bathroom. The vast majority of renters have simple needs in a building or community when it comes to amenities.
Real Closet Space
When I say "real," I think we all know what we are talking about. Not the closets with one bar that can fit a shirt and jeans. We're talking about walk-in closets or ones with built-in storage. Renters these days are older or moving from established households and have more clothing. Many developers are "afraid" to take a portion of a bedroom to enlarge a closet, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, I think most of us would like larger closets and a smaller bedroom.
This is a must-have for most renters these days. Unlike prior years, when renters were younger with very few things, today's renters are older and have amassed a lot of items. It's important to give residents enough space to make a difference, especially when units are small. I've never seen a renter say "I'm going to give up all my possessions so I can live in this community."
Dog Walking Area
As buildings and communities start accepting pets, dog walking areas are very important. It's highly convenient, safer than walking your dog outside the community during evening hours and can be a great place for residents to socialize with other residents. Great additions to these areas are dog washing stations, disposal spaces, and doggie water fountains.
Real Fitness Center
I'm not talking about a treadmill a TV and some mirrors here. Developers need to invest in full fitness centers. Renters often look at the cost of the apartment and try to figure out if they can save money by dropping their gym memberships. Want to increase your rent roll? Add a great gym.
Onsite Child Playroom / Daycare
One of the best amenities added in the last couple of years to some developments are children's playrooms. This is a game changer for families with small children not yet in school, but needing an escape from their apartments. I've seen parents actually choose one location over another just for this space. Some of the better complexes have even started operating an on-site day care, which in my opinion, would be the ultimate amenity for parents.
Amenities Renters Don't Want
In a push to seem more "hip" or "relevant," developers have opted to add some amenities that seem like they add value, but in fact, take space away from the amenities renters really want. If you have the space to add these AND all the entries above, that's a win, but a lot of these amenities are underutilized and add nothing to your communities bottom line.
- Coffee Bar - There are probably 1-2 residents per day that use this, so it doesn't really justify the expense or upkeep required
- Business Center - Can't remember last time I saw anyone using one of these.
- On-Site Kitchen - While nice in theory, once again, is only used on rare occasions.
- Movie Rooms - This is a "maybe" in my mind. Great for sporting events, etc., but usually ends up being prime real estate that can be used for something more "valuable."
- Putting Greens - Once again, I don't think I've ever seen a resident use these. Could be an excellent place for a dog park instead?
Author: Justin Cleary is an almost 20 year veteran of the Multifamily Industry. He has owned and operated several multifamily focused businesses and startups including The Philly Apartment Company, The DC Apartment Company, BlueSquare Real Estate & Property Management, and his latest venture, BreadBox (http://breadbox.consulting)