What Renters Want: Amenities
Construction of apartment rentals in downtown Los Angeles has become very popular in
the last few years in order to keep up with the demand of the growing population, particularly
those with higher incomes. Demographic surveys conducted in 2013 by Downtown LA in order
to promote business and residency rates, stated that the median income for residents is $98,700
and that 26% of residents make $150,000+ yearly. However, census data taken in 2010 show that
the median income for Downtown LA residents is only $15,003. For the entirety of Los Angeles
County, the census survey predicted a median income of $53,046. Despite these conflicting
figures, high-end apartment complexes are being built throughout the city in order to
accommodate potential residents with incomes exceeding $100,000. These new constructions
cater to a particular market, usually millennial’s, who are looking for amenities that rival 5-star
hotels. This trend is expanding throughout Los Angeles and beyond, creating considerable
incentive to upgrade older buildings and to build new modern buildings that appeal to potential
residents. According to a recent study by Marcus & Millichap, there are 92 million millenial's ,
compared to 77 million baby boomers and 61 gen-xers. This is a pretty big number in
comparison. Studies also show that millenial's are delaying major life events such as marriage,
home purchases, and children. This means that they will live in apartments much longer and
hence the high demand. Millenial's have made the move toward city centers with the desire to
"go green" and cars are optional, meaning that they prefer areas where they can walk to pretty
much anything or take public transportation/ride sharing. A building needs a high walk score,
meaning that it needs to be walking distance to restaurants, shopping, banks, etc, because tenants
consider a walk score when deciding whether or not to rent.
They prefer large complexes, with minimalistic units, and an abundance of amenities.
Popular new buildings include environmentally friendly aspects such as solar power, charging
stations for electronic vehicles, and recycling services. Tenants are willing to pay for the
opportunity to positively impact their environment. Another excellent idea is a community
garden where tenants can grow their own vegetables, herbs, etc. Additional rent can be charged
to rent out plots in the garden.
Not all apartments are made equal and each prospective tenant is looking for something
different, something distinctive that will turn an empty rental into their new home. However,
many tenants now expect their apartments to have, at a bare minimum, a few amenities that they
simply can’t live without. These amenities include hard wood-like floors, air conditioning,
granite or quartz countertops, and modern appliances. While more expensive than carpet, hard
surface floorings are low-maintenance, easy to keep clean, and do not typically need to be
replaced after a tenant moves out. Southern California weather mandates that all apartments
come with air conditioning units, whether it is central A/C or individual units. While a lack of a
dishwasher may not be a deal breaker for some tenants, most prospective renters anticipate that
there will be modern appliances and updated cabinetry. While all prospective tenants have
differing wants, needs, and preferences, these items have come to be viewed as standard in high-
end apartment rentals.
Aside from amenities, tenants are especially looking for pet friendly buildings for their
furry friends. Many renters are unwilling to part ways with their pets, and will immediately be deterred by a non-pet-friendly building. Renters with animals are increasingly common and
accepting pets is becoming a “must” for property owners and management companies. Having a
pet-friendly building is nearly as important as the amenities that you offer. You can’t sell your
unit to a prospective renter if you can’t get them through the door. Increasingly tenants are
looking for buildings that have pet services as well. This includes dog-walking companies, pet
sitting, on-premise pet grooming, and dog parks or dog runs. It is also a great way to increase
income by charging $50-$100 per month for each pet.
Many building owners have to work with a pre-existing building. While changing an
already existing apartment can be difficult and expensive, it is essential to make the right
improvements in order to get above market rents and exceptional tenants with strong income and
resources. A few right enhancements to an existing apartment building can make a tremendous
difference when trying to appeal to renters. Convenience is an important factor when trying to
find an apartment. This means making a vacant apartment available to see at all times. Renters
want to see an apartment the minute they drive past your “For Rent” sign on your lawn or in your
ad. Oftentimes, if they have to wait to see an apartment, they’ll simply move on. Tenants also
want easy ways to pay their rent and request maintenance, meaning that an effective website and
software is particularly important. They also expect that maintenance requests be done promptly
and easily. Millennial’s don’t want to call their manager or drop off their rent; they want to be
able to access what they need from the comfort of their own phone.
Once inside the door, owners want to give renters the “WOW” factor. Amenities include
the ones afore mentioned, such as A/C, wood-like flooring, and newer appliances. However, to
really wow a prospective renter, there are a few things you can do to give you an advantage over
a competitor including chandeliers, chalkboard paint, storage shelves in the bathroom, modern
lighting, and elegant bathroom sinks. To get them inside the door, beautify the building by
making the sure the landscaping is impressive and the grounds are well maintained. Switching
from grass to turf is an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly option, not to mention
drought options are currently essential. Upgrading your building amenities to include Wi-Fi in
common areas, hiring a dog-walking service, or creating a community room, or fitness center can
also make your building more attractive, especially to millennials. You can find ways to upgrade
that don’t involve major construction. Many buildings have the ability to support a rooftop deck.
If necessary, you can transform an apartment near amenities that can be a rentable flex spaces for
tenants to do work that they may not want to do in their home such as artwork or hold classes,
work on projects or crafts, work on their bicycles, use them as rehearsal spaces, or even meditate.
The community areas such as pool, lounge, should have comfortable seating areas. Fire
pits or fireplaces are also a very popular and create a sense of community for residents gathering
at the end of a long day.
If starting with new construction, it is easier to create dream units for future tenants.
Renters are looking for the right balance between “charming” and “homey”, and “modern” and
“sleek”. Tenants, especially in the millennial generation, are looking for bright, open space
concepts with lots of windows, storage spaces, high ceilings or lofts, and large closets. They
want modern appliances, with stainless steel refrigerators and dishwashers, personal washers and
dryers, and wine refrigerators. However, they also want unique touches such as custom paint, accent walls, crown moldings, built-in bookcases, and tile flooring in the kitchen and bathroom.
While creating the perfect apartment might not be feasible, you can mix and match some key
elements in order to create an alluring rental.
Some new buildings have taken it a step further by having outdoor entertainment
amenities such as rock climbing walls, lawn chessboards, disc golf areas, sand volleyball courts,
putting greens, and a single lane bowling alley. For properties near the beach, showers and
surfboard racks cater to surfers and beach goers. For all properties, bike storage and repair shops
with rentable tools are helpful for cyclists, a trend that is becoming increasingly commonplace.
Kids spaces are also popular, with arcade-like features such as pinball machines and
chalkboards. New buildings indulge a wide variety of interests, hobbies, and careers.
Tenants crave full-service buildings that cater to their every need and desire. This
includes concierge-like services where a tenant can have their appointments scheduled, dinner
reservations made, have their packages delivered, dry cleaning picked up, car washed, and have
their dog walked without ever needing to leave the comfort of their own home. They want Fluff
n Fold laundry services and valet for their vehicle. Prospective tenants want access to free and
fast Wi-Fi because many work from home. In addition they need printers, and some buildings
even offer 3-D printers. Business centers/conference rooms, recording studios, and rehearsal
spaces are also important for working professionals that need to work from home, especially for
those in the entertainment industry.
Whether working with new construction or modifying existing apartment buildings,
tenants expect the best and most up-to-date services possible. Extending beyond traditional
amenities, renters are looking for a building that complements their mobile lives.