Amenities Renters Want September 29, 2017 by W. Dean Henry, CEO Legacy Partners When 37% of households in the U.S. are renters and they represent 43.7 million rental customers, developer and management companies want to know, what do today’s renters want? The answer seems to be a well-designed and managed community that combines an exceptional customer service experience found in the hospitality industry with the designer appointments of new model homes. Renters desire a responsive office staff that is available, knowledgeable and competent who find ways to say “yes” to customer requests. They also want a proficient maintenance team that maintains the property like a resort and can make any repair promptly and do it right the first time. Inside their apartments, they want a full-size washer and dryer, air conditioning, a full suite of stainless steel appliances, and excellent sound-proofing so they don’t hear traffic noise outside or neighbors above and below them. Money-saving Smart Home technology is preferred including free Wi-Fi, smart thermostats, Energy Star® appliances, and water saving plumbing fixtures. Desired finishes that mirror for sale model homes include wood-style flooring, granite or quartz countertops, decorative tile backsplashes, and upscale-looking plumbing and lighting fixtures. Closet space and storage, as well as bike storage, are also important, and private garages are especially valued. Ample parking for residents and guests mean fewer complaints and lower turnover when it can be accomplished. The most desired common area amenities include a fitness center, heated pool and spa (consider saltwater over chlorine), outdoor barbeques and a socializing area or clubhouse – preferably with an indoor/outdoor component. And all these areas are best when Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and plug-in outlets are available and complimentary. Surprisingly, business centers also rank in the top preferred amenities despite all things mobile. In the age of Amazon.com, package delivery has become a service to be reckoned with. Ideally, renters would like their packages delivered to them inside their apartment. A second-best option is package lockers that are available onsite 24/7, rather than having to pick packages up at the office. Package locker solutions like Parcel Pending save hours of staff time and increase resident satisfaction. Lastly, do not overlook the importance of pets. According to Apartments.com as many as 70% of renters have pets and the apartment industry has opened its arms to our furry friends. Not only are most apartment communities pet-friendly, they have special amenities just for them. They include dog washing stations, dog parks, Fido-friendly treats in the office, Yappy Hour social gatherings, and technology that can identify which pet parent is not picking up after its dog. PooPrints is an effective waste management tool that matches un-scooped poop to the canine owner by matching DNA. Location, location, location still reigns in the success of an apartment community and today’s renters desire walkability to dining, shopping, and conveniences as well as being close to work. Customizing your amenities to appeal to “the locals” helps create a property’s own brand, so adding a memorable amenity whether it is an organic vegetable garden, community chicken coop or public art is a win. W. Dean Henry is CEO of Legacy Partners and KBS Legacy Partners Apartment REIT and has been involved exclusively in multifamily real estate acquisitions/development, financing, asset and property management, and dispositions since 1969.