by Dan Rafter
What amenities are renters looking for in new apartment buildings? What features should owners and developers add to make sure that renters choose their properties?
The National Apartment Association provides some hints in its latest report, Adding Value in the Age of Amenities Wars.
The report lists the top amenities in apartment buildings across the nation, with a focus on 11 key cities, Chicago the only one in the Midwest. In keeping with the trends of modern apartment development, researchers found that the most important amenities are community ones, with half of the top amenities added or upgraded since 2014 involving bringing residents together.
Everything from clubhouses to outdoor kitchens and swimming pools remain key amenities for apartment developers hoping to attract a steady stream of renters.
According to the report, fitness centers have become the most popular community-wide amenity in apartment buildings. That is followed by business centers, clubhouses, common areas for socializing and pet-friendly apartment buildings.
The next most popular community amenities are improved landscaping in common areas, swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, playgrounds or play areas and areas for holding packages delivered to residents.
Renters are willing to pay a bit more each month for certain community amenities. The National Apartment Association found that 46 percent of apartment residents today are willing to a pay rent premium for access to on-site fitness classes, while 42 percent are willing to pay more for walking trails and tracks.
Inside units, the most sought-after amenity since 2014 is an in-unit washer/dryer, following by high-end kitchen appliances, hardwood floors and upgrades to units’ lighting, plumbing and electrical systems. Renters also sought energy-efficient appliances, high-end kitchen countertops, ceiling fans, cable TV, garbage disposals and personal outdoor space.
The National Apartment Association found that 49 percent of renters are willing to pay $75 more a month in rent for hardwood floors, while 41 percent are willing to pay $50 more each month for balconies. The association also reported that 39 percent of renters are willing to spend $30 a month more for granite countertops.
But can multifamily owners charge higher monthly rents for added amenities? According to the apartment association, yes. The association found that community-wide amenities brought in higher average rent increases, $77 more per unit each month. Unit-specific upgrades brought higher rents, too, but a smaller average of $52 a month.
The association reported that pet-friendly amenities had the greatest impact on rents and only cost owners an average $7,000. That makes pet-friendy amenities the biggest bang for building owners’ bucks.
Fitness centers are an important amenity, too. The apartment association said that building owners could receive an average of 13 percent more in monthly rent by adding fitness centers to their buildings. The average cost of adding a fitness center, though, is not cheap, $28,500 according to the National Apartment Association.
Adding a clubhouse will cost owners an average of $50,000, but will result in an average monthly rental boost of 9 percent for a building. A new swimming pool, which costs an average of $25,000, will bring an average monthly increase of rental income of 11 percent, according to the association.