What apartment features does the 2010 renter look for? Hot apartment amenities are trending toward green living, tech-readiness and pet-friendliness. At the same time, today’s tenants aren’t willing to forego the traditional amenities that have made apartment life convenient for decades.
We recently researched the 10 hottest apartment unit amenities for 2010. Here’s the countdown:
Amenity No. 10: Eco-Friendly Apartment Features
Look for the popularity of eco-friendly apartment features to skyrocket among tenants in the next several years. For now, green living comes in at No. 10 on our list of best apartment amenities, while we wait for new construction, apartment rehab projects and reluctant landlords to get on board in large numbers.
Eighty-eight percent of apartment hunters consider the environment when searching for the perfect rental, according to an April 2010 report at Relocation.com which cites recent surveys. Top eco-friendly apartment features include energy-efficient appliances, energy-efficient windows, water-saving toilets and shower heads, individual garden plots and earth-conscious building materials.
Amenity No. 9: Modern Technology Compatibility
In a similar survey, Apartments Next.com reported that 80 percent of tenants consider Internet access in their apartment searches. More and more apartment communities are including free wifi with apartment leases, either available in individual units or in tenant-accessible business centers. Either way, today’s savvy tenants include wireless Internet on their apartment amenity shopping lists.
Additionally, as flat panel televisions find their way into more and more apartment homes, tenants are going to be looking for living room designs that not only have allocated the wall space for flat screens but also provide solutions for hiding the cords and wires. And speaking of television, today’s tenants demand multiple cable outlets throughout their apartments. A single outlet in the living room will no longer do.
Amenity No. 8: Laundry Hookups
Sure, you can manage just fine in a shared laundry room; and you can even deal with having to go off-site to wash and dry clothes. Furthermore, renting an apartment with hookups means you’ll have to go out and buy a washing machine and dryer to make use of them — large purchases not everyone can afford — unless your apartment also comes with the machines.
But in-apartment laundry is a highly desirable amenity, particularly for families with children. Throwing a load of clothes into the washer whenever you want is an enormous convenience and although for some people, in-apartment laundry hookups are a “want” and not a “need,” they are a solid No. 8 on our list of hottest apartment amenities.
Amenity No. 7: Patios and/or Balconies
Another “want” as opposed to a “need,” outdoor living space is nevertheless a priority among apartment hunters. When I worked as an apartment manager, divulging to prospective tenants that none of our one-bedroom units came with either a patio or balcony did indeed turn off a number of apartment hunters. Meanwhile, the balconies in our two- and three-bedrooms always proved to be an attention-getting selling point.
Funnily enough, hardly anyone ever actually used the balconies, but apartment hunters almost always in inquired about them.
Amenity No. 6: Pets Allowed, Especially Large Dogs
If you’re a renter and a pet owner, particularly an owner of a large dog, finding an elusive pet-friendly apartment might rate as the No. 1 priority on your own list of important apartment amenities. The status of pets is ever-increasing, and in mid-2009 the blog Business Trends forecast greater numbers of apartment communities allowing pets.
New open-door policies toward pets might come from a change in a property owner’s thinking, a desire to simply place more tenants in vacant apartment or perhaps even by legislation. America Online’s real estate channel, Rented Spaces, recently reported on proposed legislation in Manitoba, Canada that would eliminate a landlord’s rights to prohibit pets. The proposal is based on a similar law that is already on the books in Ontario and, if successfully passed, will no doubt lead to other communities following suit.
Amenity No. 5: Paid Utilities
There’s a reason landlords prominently advertise “free water,” “free heat” and “free wifi.” It’s simple: Free anything turns heads, and in an economy that has seen better days, apartment hunters are more than happy to have one less bill to pay.
Even if “free” actually means utilities are factored into a higher monthly rent price, paid utilities allow tenants to more easily draft and stick to a budget. Rent doesn’t fluctuate from month to month, but gas, electric and water sure can.
Amenity No. 4: A Second Bathroom
We were surprised not to find any mention of having an extra bathroom anywhere in our research of top apartment amenities, but we’re rating it high on our list because home building trends over the two decades have set a standard for multiple bathrooms in single-family residences. Can new apartment construction or rehab projects be long to follow?
Of course you don’t need an extra bathroom in a one-bedroom studio apartment, but in a three-bedroom unit? Absolutely. Whether you’re living with roommates, a spouse or children, sharing one bathroom is growing increasingly intolerable in 2010. Developers of student housing and luxury units have been the first to embrace multiple bathrooms, but any property owner who wishes to remain competitive in the apartment market will consider multiple bathrooms in his or her new construction or remodeling plans.
Amenity No. 3: Air Conditioning
Depending on climate, air conditioning can make or break an apartment’s suitability; fewer and fewer tenants and homeowners alike are refusing to go without it. A 2006 Pew Research Center survey concluded that 70 percent of respondents considered air conditioning as a necessity they couldn’t live without — ahead of microwave ovens, home computers and even television sets.
Central air conditioning is best, but tenants generally will accept clumsy window units over suffering 90-degree temperatures any day, especially tenants who live in areas prone to such temperatures in the summer. For these tenants, air conditioning is a major must-have amenity.
Amenity No. 2: Garages
A garage is more than just a place to park your car out of the weather. It can provide extra storage space and, if attached to your apartment building or single-family rental residence, extra privacy and security when you come and go.
Perhaps that’s why garages rated as the fourth most-searched apartment amenity on For Rent.com earlier this year, behind only pools and playgrounds — which aren’t apartment unit features so much as they are community features — and the amenity that takes the No. 1 spot on our list. …
Amenity No. 1: Dishwashers
The For Rent report of most-searched apartment amenities listed dishwashers at No. 1, and so do we.
The best thing about having a dishwasher is not that it’ll wash and dry your dishes for you, although it’s easy to appreciate the time it saves and the way it unchains you from the kitchen sink. No, the best thing about a dishwasher is that it provides a hidden place to stash the dirties, making quick kitchen cleanups after meals a much easier task.
On your next apartment hunt, consider your own prioritized list of must-have amenities, perhaps taking a few cues from our countdown. And, if community amenities are more important to you than in-unit amenities, be sure to check out this article’s companion piece, “Top 10 Best Apartment Community Amenities for 2010,” linked on this author’s Associated Content profile page.
“Study: Many Prospective Renters Looking for Green Buildings,” Relocation.com
“Most Sought-After Apartment Amenities,” Apartments Next
“Upward Trend in Pet-Friendly Apartments,” Business Trends
Katie McCaskey, “Renters With Pets Hail ‘Fluffy’s Law,'” Rented Spaces
“Things We Can’t Live Without …” Pew Research Center
“What Amenities Do Residents Really Want in Their Apartments?” For Rent
Author Experience in Property Management