Today’s renters want it all: beautiful units, resort-style amenities, convenient services and attainable pricing. To be a successful multifamily investor and operator, it’s important to strike a balance between fulfilling renters’ “dream lifestyle” while not going over the top in terms of cost.
From Gen Zers to baby boomers, American renters are continually raising their expectations, so a beautiful, well-located apartment property alone is not enough to attract and retain residents in today’s competitive landscape. Older communities may need fresh, new amenities, a facelift or a substantial technology investment. New developments require careful planning to meet the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s renters.
Multifamily operators can differentiate themselves by the level of customer service they provide and the quality of amenities they can offer. The goal is to give residents more time to do the things they enjoy most and allow them to reap the benefits of “worry-free living.”
That said, one size does not fit all, so before making an investment in a property, there are at least four things a savvy investor should consider:
1. Survey the competition. What amenities and services do they offer? Does your property offer a better, more appealing package along with competitive pricing?
2. Listen to your renters. You could hold a town hall meeting with your residents or post an online open-ended survey for renters in your local market.
3. Walk through the community. Look for opportunities to boost its appeal. Perhaps an outdoor grill or cabana could be added to the pool area, or a grassy space between buildings could be turned into a designated dog park.
4. Analyze the lobby entrance areas. Why not turn an empty space into a self-serve coffee/tea bar? You could add a sofa and chairs, as well as charging stations for mobile devices and tables for laptops. It’s a great way to promote social interactions among residents and staff.
Here are more practical tips for providing “white glove” experiences that attract today’s demanding renters to apartment communities:
Technology is a hot-button topic for renters of all ages, so you may be able to gain an edge on the competition by offering smart-home features, such as voice-activated devices like Alexa or tablets that control smart locks, thermostats, lights and HVAC systems. You should also offer a robust Wi-Fi service, making it easy for your residents to access streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or HBO.
But it’s not enough to just roll out new services for each unit. You need a robust technology infrastructure to support those services. Is your existing wiring up to speed? Do you need to add more Wi-Fi access points? Can a cloud-based provider offer a technology upgrade without a significant capital expenditure?
Making smart investments in technology can also help you manage energy costs and identify maintenance problems at an early stage, contributing to your community’s financial performance.
Apartment residents want to feel safe within their community and value different levels of access controls. However, they also want to make it easy to receive goods and services from their online, text and phone orders.
Therefore, you should think carefully about balancing security and convenience for your residents. For instance, tenants could text a staffer at the community or building entrance to expect an Uber Eats or DoorDash delivery coming in the next hour. You should also have a system in place, such as individualized lockers, to receive a daylong flow of packages from online retailers and a secure area for storage until the resident returns.
Renters are looking for convenience in their lives, and your package of services should focus on supporting that goal. That could include any number of things from valet trash service and pet-walking services to events and programming that bring residents together for fun. At our properties, for example, we’ve partnered with a leading online grocery marketplace to provide residents with free grocery delivery within one hour.
Speaking of convenience, you should also make it easy for residents to deal with maintenance issues. Make it simple for them to report problems, handle them quickly and keep them informed at every step of the process. If you tell a resident you’re going to have a plumber fix a leaky faucet on Thursday at 8 a.m., you need to have a plumber there on Thursday at 8 a.m.
In summary, the most successful apartment investors consider more than just “bricks and sticks” in executing their business plan; by default, apartment operators are providing a lifestyle as much as a place to live. So use creativity, as well as feedback from renters themselves, to offer the services and amenities renters value most. That’s the best way to position your community for sustained performance over the long-term in any market.