One important aspect of a rental property is its mix of amenities, both within apartment units and as community features available for all residents. With so many upscale multifamily developments completed in the last few years — and plenty more on the way, particularly in some of the nation’s fastest-growing cities — apartment property owners and developers need to be tuned in to what’s in demand.
Many of the highest-end luxury communities have a wide range of amenities, catering to virtually every renter cohort. Whether it’s infinity pools, dog spas, a tanning studio, or even a sky garage, if you can imagine an amenity, there’s a decent chance that it exists somewhere, in some form.
That said, the key to a community’s amenities often isn’t how many your property offers, but whether or not they meet the needs of your renters in a way that makes sound financial sense to you, the owner. An on-site fitness center may sound great, but if your residents would prefer to sign up for a membership at the modern gym around the corner, does it make sense to convert part of your property?
We have identified five in-demand amenities — within units or the wider community — that are relatively low cost but have the potential to increase an apartment investor’s returns.
Top 5 Multifamily Amenities to Add to Your Property
A package locker. Image by David Pisnoy from Unsplash.
Nearly everyone shops online these days, and taking care of incoming deliveries is a relatively inexpensive but high-yield amenity to offer your residents. Smart building technology provider Swiftlane reported that approximately $6 billion of packages were stolen in 2020, impacting more than one in five Americans.
If you don’t have an on-site concierge service, package lockers are one of your best options to secure your residents’ purchases. Package lockers can be outfitted with smart tech: For example, once a package is placed in a locker, an email or text message with a PIN or QR code can be sent to the resident, who enters or scans that to gain access to their package. Demand for this amenity is only going to grow, but it’s good to be aware of costs involved in installing this property feature. Though pricing varies between locker providers, upfront costs could range from $6,000 to even $20,000 for larger facilities, with some monthly maintenance fees.
Smart thermostat. Image by Dan LeFebvre from Unsplash.
Smart Home Features
Smart home technology has already largely become the norm — especially in upscale properties — and it’s easy to see why. The benefits of leveraging technology span both the renter and landlord side. There are a variety of different types of features, from smart locks and thermostats to automating maintenance requests, in this rather broad category. And each typically provides a notable upside — convenience, cost savings, or both — to everyone involved.
Take smart thermostats, for example. It’s broadly recognized that these devices can save the end user — the tenant — 10% or more on their heating bill, but they also hold the potential to reduce building owners’ costs. While a landlord may realize cost reductions in common areas, the big benefit is when it comes to a community’s vacant units. Using smart thermostats can provide an effective and efficient way for a property manager to monitor these units without going door-to-door, taking up your building staff’s valuable time.
Electric vehicle-charging station. image by Andrew Roberts from Unsplash.
Green Transportation Initiatives
Sustainable elements to a building have definitely gained traction, both among renters and landlords. One key way to make a difference is by offering green transportation initiatives, which could include anything from bike sharing to electric vehicle-charging stations.
Of course, a key factor to consider here is your location. If your property is in the urban core of a major metropolitan area, you might not have room for any parking — and your renters may not even own cars, rendering EV chargers a moot point. That said, offering some type of environmentally sustainable accessibility option to your residents could make the difference in whether or not your asset is equipped for what tomorrow’s renters demand — KPMG’s annual global automotive executive survey from last year anticipates that, by 2030, 52% of all new vehicles sold will be battery powered.
Image by Dan Robinson from Unsplash.
Many landlords are hesitant about allowing their residents to bring their pets with them to a community. While this may be understandable on some level, over concerns regarding property damage or even legal liability issues, there are many great reasons to let your renters move in with their dogs or cats.
Most importantly, by allowing pets you are significantly expanding your potential renter demographic. The 2021/2021 APPA National Pet Owners Survey reports that 70% of American households have a pet. Allowing pets in your property could also reduce turnover and instill a greater sense of home and community within your resident population. There’s a clear financial upside, too — with a clearly defined pet policy, landlords can reduce their liability while at the same time increasing rental income through monthly pet fees.
Community garden. Image by Steve Adams from Unsplash.
One of a community’s most important amenities is something it already has: the space outside it. However, what separates an attractive rental property from a run-of-the-mill asset is how you utilize this space. Depending on your renter demographics and space constraints, gardening areas, grilling stations, walking paths, or even a rooftop terrace could make your community outshine the competition.
Outdoor amenities generally don’t cost too much, but they can improve the renter experience significantly. Installing a fire pit with some lounge chairs or a dining area, for example, is relatively inexpensive. But creating a venue for residents to meet, dine, or have a couple drinks together by the fire may build a lasting impression that keeps them at your property for years to come.