Renter Preferences Survey Shows Residents Desire More Space

Renter Preferences Survey Shows Residents Desire More Space

A new renter preferences survey says residents are reporting a great desire for more space, better amenities and in-home creature comforts as the pandemic caused residents to evaluate their housing needs.

The 2022 Renter Preferences Survey Report from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Grace Hill included 221,000 renters living in 4,564 communities nationwide, with data available in 79 markets.

The report provides a look at the home features and community amenities that renters say they cannot live without, how much they are willing to pay and what matters during their home search.

Space is a priority for residents

The report says the pandemic lockdowns led to a strong desire for additional space. While tenants regularly seek lower rents, the survey said 28 percent of renters who said they intend to move to a different rental community when their lease expires cited “additional living space” as a reason, up from just 19 percent two years ago.

This was the third-most-common reason for wanting to move after “seeking lower rent” (49 percent of renters) and “seeking better community amenities” (29 percent).

Most important amenities now desired

Renters have a great desire—and are willing to pay a premium in additional monthly rent—for certain amenities. The top ones are with additional monthly premium:

  • Washer/dryer in-unit (92 percent of renters interested / $54.73 monthly premium);
  • Air conditioning (91 percent / $54.73);
  • Soundproof walls (90 percent / $46.21);
  • High-speed Internet access (89 percent; $47.93); and
  • Walk-in closet (88 percent; $43.46).

Also, when asked which types of rental homes renters considered during their last home search, the majority said traditional apartment homes (57 percent). However, townhomes and single-family rentals were also in the mix at 23 percent and 19 percent of responses, respectively, “supporting the desire for more space and validating industry and investor eyes on these property types,” the report said.

“The pandemic caused many renters to reevaluate their housing priorities, with a striking example being one-quarter of all moves we tracked were specific to changes in teleworking,”  Sarah Yaussi, vice president, business strategy, NMHC, said in a release.

“Whether it’s digital nomads looking to join a flexible membership club, pet amenities dog owners won’t rent without or the insatiable appetite for more packages, the NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey reveals all that has changed since 2019. And what we’ve seen overall are renters reporting a great desire for more space, better amenities and in-home creature comforts,” Yaussi said.

Renter Preferences Very Specific In Some Markets

  • A gear wall, for home storage and organization, is a sought-after home feature in Honolulu, where 45 percent of renters say they are interested or won’t rent without one.
  • Rental dwellers in Savannah, Ga. show the least interest (11 percent) in a gear wall but show more interest than any other market in a makerspace/DIY room (39 percent).
  • More interest in hot tubs in Boulder, Colo. (70 percent) than in Philadelphia (41 percent).
  • Covered parking is more important in Minneapolis (80 percent) than in Gainesville, Fla. (47 percent).

“It’s important to note that, beyond national trends, there are several market-level nuances affecting renter preferences,” said Kendall Pretzer, CEO of Grace Hill, in the release.

“National data paints an overall picture for the industry, but it is vital for operators to keep a finger on the pulse of each individual market in their portfolios. Trends vary by region, by state and by municipality and may stray significantly from national averages. A program that regularly polls prospects and solicits resident feedback is essential to successfully meeting renter preferences and expectations,” Pretzer said.

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