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What renters are searching for in on-site amenities: Glitz and glamour, or practicality?

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

April 4, 2019 | Evan Knapp | NAI Wisinski Great Lakes

Providing tenants access to a pool, gym and updated appliances are no longer enough to appease this generation of renters; they are looking for much, much more. Consumer preferences are constantly changing, and not every segment is going to be seeking the same amenities. For developers and property managers, here are some ways to be on top of these varying preferences and to understand what amenities are absolute musts, and which may be unnecessary.

“Gotta-have-its” vs. Unnecessary Additions

Renters are developing an ever-growing expectation of access to countless amenities and impeccable service— not later, but now. The question is, are they seeking amenities with the “wow factor”, or practical amenities that will actually be utilized on a day-to-day basis? As a property owner, which is the superior investment? Read the following 4 tips on what modern consumers are looking for in a living community, and what might be wasted investments:

1. Customer service that goes the extra mile – Why do so many consumers choose Chick-Fil-A over other fast food alternatives? It might boil down to their chicken being just that good, but maybe it also has something to do with their remarkable customer service. Their employees are specifically trained to provide customers a consistent and superior service that is expected every single time they walk through the doors; the delicious chicken sandwich and waffle fries are just an added bonus.

Much like retail, the multifamily industry is a highly competitive market, and consumers often expect and specifically look for locations which offer outstanding service. THIS DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN MORE AMENITIES. This means offering the RIGHT amenities that not only today’s consumers are looking for, but that tomorrow’s consumer will look for as well. It means hiring the best personnel and ensuring that all staff are on the same page and know how to market the brand in the most effective way. In many parts of the country, it’s a seller’s market right now; use this time to create and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors by offering the amenities that consumers can utilize.

2. Create floor plan layouts that promote a social lifestyle – *This particular tip is target demographic-dependent.* If you, as a property manager or owner, are attempting to appeal and market luxury apartments to 30 and 40-year-old business/medical professionals in a downtown location, there’s a good chance that sociability isn’t the most pertinent item on their agenda. However, if you’re marketing to the elderly/retirees, or perhaps young professionals coming out of college and still looking to be sociable, this is a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors.

3. Forecast the way that the world is going; be the first to the market in a category and differentiate yourself – Don’t panic— this certainly does not mean you need to become the next great innovator of our era by inventing the next hottest idea! In fact, most great ideas nowadays are not new inventions, they are simply additions or modifications to a certain product or service that somebody has already thought of. By conducting market research that pertains to your target market(s), it’s possible to discover exactly what it is that they enjoy the most and what makes life easier for them. Further, do some creative thinking in order to create a unique offering or service (not necessarily expensive, just different) that fulfills this need, implement it, and then monitor its success. By utilizing creative and innovative techniques and showcasing that you truly care about the preferences and well-being of your tenants, you are already differentiating yourself in the market and well on your way to future successes.

Studies show that although innovative and flashy amenities are more likely to grab the consumers’ attention, amenities that make day-to-day life easier to manage causes them to stay for a longer period of time.

4. Steer clear of “trendy” amenities - Trends and fads are two very different things, and it’s critical to note the difference between the two.


  • Some current fads out there: Let’s take the food industry for a simple example. Small restaurants and specialty markets are popping up left and right to satisfy the new health needs of consumers; this would include vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, peanut allergies, and fitness lifestyle, to name a few.

  • Realistically, these fads will hang around for a couple of years, maybe even a decade. However, the demand for these goods WILL decrease drastically at some point, and there won’t be enough business to keep these companies afloat. The exact same is true for multifamily properties with trendy apartment styles and amenities. Amongst many other factors, over-investment in these categories can make or break a company; you need to think in terms of what will bring success in the long-term rather than what will bring in customers now.

Final Thoughts:

Simply need to consider and identify:

  1. What is this generation of consumers looking for in a living community? What will they potentially be demanding in the next 10 years?

  2. What amenities are essential to my target market? What can I do to ensure that their needs aren’t only met, but exceeded?

  3. What is a unique way I can stand out to consumers without breaking the bank?

  4. How can I take market data and analysis and use it to forecast demand for certain amenities?

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