Technology is Top-of-Mind for Multifamily Renters, Says NMHC Survey

by Jeff Shaw

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More and more renters are looking for apartments that feature high levels of technology, according to the 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report released by the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and research firm Kingsley Associates.

The NMHC is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization serving the multifamily industry. The report was compiled through survey responses from nearly 373,000 renters living in 5,336 different apartment communities throughout more than 270 U.S. markets. It was the largest number of responses in the report’s eight-year history, according to the NMHC.

On the technology front, 91.2 percent of respondents said reliable cell phone reception is important, and 44 percent won’t rent at a property without it. Even more — 91.7 percent — noted the need for high-speed internet, with nearly 70 percent even saying that Wi-Fi throughout the community (not just in apartments) is important.

This reliance on the web is because of residents’ use of multiple internet-connected devices. Over 98 percent of respondents use at least one internet-connected device, and over 40 percent possess five or more.

Renters also expressed high levels of interest in smart-home technology like smart thermostats (70.5 percent), smart lighting (66.9 percent) and smart locks (63 percent). However, these were not deal-breakers — only 6.6 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t rent without any of this technology. They expect each of those technologies to add about $30 to their monthly rent.

Following technology, flexibility in lease terms was another hot topic. Short-term rentals resulted in a wide range of thoughts, with age playing a major factor. Nearly half of those under age 25 were interested in short-term rental options, but less than 15 percent of those over 65 were. Of the older cohort, in fact, more than 30 percent said they would not rent at all at a community that offered short-term rental options.

Although the “sharing economy” may get a lot of headlines, it seems that co-living and co-working options are not yet ready for mainstream acceptance in multifamily communities.

Co-living situations — where residents have their own bedroom, but otherwise share all amenities such as living rooms and kitchens — did not entice residents much. Approximately 85 percent of residents said they either probably or definitely wouldn’t consider a co-living apartment.

Similarly, only about 15 percent of respondents said they would use a coworking space, loosely defined as an on-site office where an individual desk can be rented. However, with over 40 percent of residents telecommuting to work at least some of the time, more than half of respondents said they were interested in using a standard business center on site when it’s offered.

To view the full survey, click here.

— Jeff Shaw

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