As landlords, we typically look at our properties through the lens of what we want out of an investment. But maybe it’s time that we peel back the curtain a bit and study what tenants are actually looking for in the properties they rent. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
The Rise of the Discerning Renter
To say that the pandemic had an impact on every aspect of our lives would be a massive understatement. It obviously impacted our physical health, mental health, social interactions, finances, professional lives, and relationships. However, it also impacted the way people view their homes.
With mandated shutdowns and remote working, Americans spent more time at home in 2020 and 2021 than any two-year stretch in the history of this country. As a result, people became much better acquainted with the pros and cons of their living spaces and what they actually wanted out of their homes. Naturally, this has led to a nation of more discerning renters.
In the past, it was easy for tenants to overlook certain shortcomings of a rental property. Outside of sleeping, they might have spent just three or four hours per day in their homes. During the height of the pandemic, many people spent more like 15 to 18 waking hours at home. This gave them plenty of time to think about what they love, hate, need, and want in a property.
As a landlord, you can look at this shift from oblivious to discerning renters as a negative or positive. Most landlords see it as a thorn in their side – a shift in attitudes that could potentially have a negative effect on cash flow. But there’s another side to the coin. The glass-half-full approach says this is an opportunity to step up your game and create a competitive advantage in a marketplace where renters are willing to pay more for the things they want.
It’s not that renters are demanding a ton of new features and amenities and simultaneously asking landlords to charge less in rent. (They don’t have that kind of power in this sort of marketplace.) By and large, renters are prioritizing features over affordability. They just want places they’re happy to call home.
7 Things Renters Want and Need in 2022 and Beyond
When you study the marketplace trends and speak to renters, it’s clear what they want. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things they’re looking for in 2022:
1. Good Location
Location is always going to be a key factor. The question is, what sort of location are people looking for?
While every market and neighborhood is different, there’s some serious momentum behind locations with high walkability scores and/or easy access to transport links. At a time when communities are technically getting bigger – sprawling into the suburbs – there’s a desire to live, work, and play in the same basic area. Rental properties that offer walkability in each of these phases are in higher demand.
2. Safety and Security
As Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows, safety and security are fundamental needs. (The only thing more important than being safe is having air, water, food, shelter, etc.) And in a world as chaotic as the one we’re in right now, renters want to feel safe in their own homes.
Landlords who prioritize safety and security features instantly make their properties more attractive. If you don’t already have them, consider adding smart locks, doorbell cameras, window sensors, and alarm monitoring services.
3. Outdoor Living
During the pandemic, 66 percent of people say they’ve spent more time doing outdoor activities. This mirrors the increasing affinity among renters for outdoor living spaces.
If you own a single-family rental property, upgrading your backyard to include outdoor living areas can significantly increase demand and rental rates. Popular options include decks, patios, fire pits, and outdoor kitchens and grilling areas.
If you have a multifamily property or apartment complex, adding communal outdoor areas like barbeques, gazebos, and green spaces can help with attracting and retaining tenants.
4. Shared Workspaces
According to one study, 35 percent of renters are interested in using shared workspaces in their community. So if you have a multifamily property or apartment complex, consider creating some sort of business center or shared office space that tenants can access.
5. Healthy Living Environment
Health is a bigger priority than it’s ever been. For many renters, it’s actually the top priority in their lives. From a housing perspective, you can respect this need by focusing on general cleanliness and the use of safe, environmentally-friendly materials (like low-VOC paints, air purifiers, etc.). Make this one of your focal points in 2022, and you’ll appeal to an entirely new group of renters.
6. Strong Tech Infrastructure
The pandemic has led to increased screen/tech time for renters. This includes an increase in streaming video, video conferencing, streaming music, and gaming. And with most of these activities occurring at home, renters are desperately seeking faster internet connectivity.
Providing a strong technology infrastructure in rental communities will not go unnoticed. (It might not necessarily help you attract tenants, but it will play a role in retention.)
7. The Convenience “Triple Play”
According to a MillionAcres survey of 1,500 renters and 136 landlords, renters are willing to pay more than landlords thought for three convenient features: multiple payment options, guest parking, and flexible lease terms.
Renters are looking for convenience. The more flexible options you offer, the more you can charge. Not only that, but the more likely you are to increase retention, reduce turnover, and lower vacancy rates.
Green Residential Professional Property Management
At Green Residential, we offer Houston and Austin landlords comprehensive property management services that include benefits like access to an experienced CPA, no-obligation contracts, monthly accounting statement, maintenance and repair coordination, instant online payment processing, industry-leading response times, detailed tenant screening, 24-hour support lines, effective property marketing, professional quality photography, and thorough, licensed property inspections.
Want to learn how to get all of this and more for an affordable flat-rate fee? Please contact us today, and we’ll be happy to give you a free property analysis and discuss your options!