Renters Demand More Space in Covid Era

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – Apartment dwellers, coping with life in the Covid-era and the work-from-home trend, want larger living units, an exhaustive new study shows.

The newly released survey brimming with input from 221,000 renters in 4,564 communities nationwide lists a bevy of must-have demands from a residential class about to break out of a nearly two-year pandemic-restrictive crunch.

The 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report released by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Grace Hill technology-enabled performance solutions contains home features and community amenities that rent payers say they can’t live without; how much they’re willing to fork over to pay for them and what matters most during their search for a new dwelling.

“Whether it’s digital nomads looking to join a flexible membership club, pet amenities dog owners won’t rent without or the insatiable appetite for more package [delivery service], the NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey reveals all that has changed since 2019,” said Sarah Yaussi, vice president, Business Strategy for NMHC.

“And what we’ve seen overall are renters reporting a great desire for more space, better amenities and in-home creature comforts.”

In addition, said Yaussi, “The pandemic caused many renters to re-evaluate their housing priorities. [The survey showed] that one-quarter of all moves we tracked were specific to changes in teleworking.”

Renters Demand More Space

All lockdowns seemed to create an ardent desire for additional space, the survey said. Twenty-eight percent of renters who plan to move to a different rental community cited “additional living space” as a reason, up from 19 percent two years ago. This was the third-most-common reason for wanting to move after “seeking lower rent” (49 percent) and “seeking better community amenities” (29 percent).

The following are just a few of the different renter preferences unearthed in the study:

  • A gear wall, for home storage and organization, is a sought-after home feature in Honolulu, where 45 percent of renters say they are interested or won’t rent without one.
  • There’s more interest in hot tubs in Boulder, Colo. (70 percent) than in Philadelphia (41 percent).
  • Covered parking is more in demand in Minneapolis (80 percent) than in Gainesville, Fla. (47 percent).

Now more than ever, home is proving to be a sanctuary, the preference report goes on. Renters have a great desire—and are willing to pay a premium of additional monthly rent—for certain conveniences. Features with the highest share of renter interest and their associated added average monthly premiums are:

  • Washer/dryer in-unit (92 percent of renters interested / $54.73 monthly premium)
  • Air conditioning (91 percent interested/ $54.73)
  • Soundproof walls (90 percent / $46.21).
  • High-speed internet access (89 percent/ $47.93)
  • Walk-in closet (88 percent/ $43.46).

“Seamless connectivity” is also on renters’ must-get list. “Reliable cell phone service ranked as the No. 1 community amenity, with 86 percent of survey respondents indicating interest.” Also, nine out of 10 of those who participated in the survey said they want top-notch internet capacity.

Geography played a part in at least one category – outdoor facilities. “Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents indicated strong interest in a community pool, with the strongest interest levels coming mostly from fairer climates in the Southeast and Texas.” Also drawing thumbs-up responses were patios, balconies, communal area barbecue grills and rooftop space, particularly in higher-density regions.

Amazon and Deliveries

The survey showed increased interest in delivery of packages and perishable goods such as groceries. The share of renters who received two or fewer packages per month dropped from 45 percent in 2019 to just 24 percent this round. Conversely, the share who received three or more packages per month increased from 55 percent to 76 percent – and the share of renters who received perishable items several times a month or more nearly doubled from 9 percent in 2019 to 17 percent now.

Also, renters’ interest in “smart” home technology increased. The preferences survey said 70 percent of respondents either want or wouldn’t rent without smart thermostats. Smart sensor technology is also driving orders for leak detection systems and water-saving features, each of which drew positive responses from 67 percent of participants.

Fitness centers remain one of the more popular community amenities with 70 percent of respondents opting for workout modalities to benefit their exercise regimen. Most health fans cite a preference for cardio exercise machines – treadmills, above all – and free weights.

Demand From Doggies 

A third of respondents must have a pet or service animal. Dogs are truly man’s best friend with 70 percent of renters opting for canine companions.

But four-legged fur babies aren’t enough. Renters want amenities such as community dog parks, pet washing stations and on-site pet service such as doggy day care and grooming. Restrictions on pet breeds, said the survey, are not particularly popular among renters.

The 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report was taken during September and October 2021. Surveys were sent to more than a million people, and about 20 percent answered.


Jan. 25, 2022 Realty News Report Copyright 2022

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Photo: Courtesy Colliers

File: Renters Demand More Space in Covid Era

File: NMHC.  Renters Demand More Space in Covid Era. 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report.National Multifamily Housing Council. Grace Hill

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