When it comes to apartments, all amenities are not created equal. Renters are familiar with photos of sparkling pools, modern fitness centers and fun community events – but what kind of amenities have the most appeal to renters? Are elements of luxury living needed to attract tenants? Or can smoke-free housing, pet-friendly policies and excellent property maintenance attract quality tenants without the bells and whistles? Fortunately, upgrades and improvements can be made to add value at all price levels, which benefits both renters and landlords.
A recent study by the National Apartment Association (NAA) surveyed properties to identify the top amenities in communities both nationwide and in 11 cities. The study included 43 unique amenities to determine which features had been upgraded and added – and therefore which are important to both renters and property managers. For community-wide amenities, fitness centers claim the top spot followed closely by business centers. With a growing health and wellness market in the United States and remote work becoming commonplace, demand for these features is unlikely to decline in the near future. Social spaces were also popular, with clubhouses and common areas rounding out the top 4 spots.
Some landlords may be surprised to find that pet-friendly upgrades claimed the number 5 spot in the NAA survey above both community landscaping and swimming pools. This popularity may indicate that pet-friendly policies can have an impact on rents without a major investment in renovating properties themselves. Many landlords may be hesitant to handle the potential pitfalls of housing pets, but responsible pet owners can make great tenants and will be willing to pay a premium to bring along their furry family members.
For unit-specific amenities, in-unit laundry claimed the top spot followed by high-end kitchen appliances and hardwood floors. The importance of in-unit laundry is no surprise – The New York Times has included in-unit laundry as one of the amenities that have the most impact to raise rents – along with doormen, elevators, and dedicated parking. The value-add of these amenities varies depending on the metropolitan area.
In New York City, for example, a doorman will add on average $260 to the rent while in-unit laundry will add $80. At first glance, in Los Angeles it appears these amenities don’t go quite as far – doormen add only $150 to the rent on average and in-unity laundry adds $40. However, the median rent in Los Angeles is $1800 for a one bedroom compared to $3000 in New York City. Different metropolitan areas will place varying premiums on amenities while median rents provide context.
Some properties may go over-the-top by offering lazy rivers, yoga classes, on-site massage therapy, movie nights on inflatable screens, and weekly community cook-outs. But more modest upgrades like energy efficient appliances can be a win-win for both tenants and landlords. To determine which amenities are most important for your local community, consider feedback from existing tenants and apartment-seekers. Unit-specific features like the number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms and square footage will continue to drive prices, but a wide variety of potential amenities provide flexibility for landlords looking to upgrade.