A look at some of the top apartment amenities. What level of service do you want to provide?
**This article was originally posted in The ABODE September 2022 issue**
Apartment amenities are the desirable features offered to residents of apartment buildings. Some more standard amenities include dog parks, community gathering centers and swimming pools, while built-in convenience stores and "smart" amenities are becoming more popular daily.
Most amenities don't have a cost, or at least a cost that is disclosed to the resident. Some, like a pool, volleyball courts, fitness club and yoga studios in the building, may impose a membership fee, but most amenities are reflected in the rent.
What Amenities are Popular in 2022?
The popular apartment amenities tend to change yearly as technology changes and residents' desires change. Some of the best amenities stay on the list from year to year, while others simply disappear. In 2022, outdoor and co-working spaces will be more popular amenities. Smart amenities like locks, thermostats and access controls are also high on the desirable list this year, as are systems for receiving your packages.
Pet owners always hope to have their companions with them, with additional perks like dog walking, dog spas or exercise spaces to make having them even more accessible. Finally, everyone always has, and always will, be looking for parking and transportation amenities. Residents want to park easily and, in big cities, want close access to mass transportation.
Electric car charging stations are one related amenity that is just coming into focus on the horizon. As more of us turn to electric vehicles, property management will have to begin to provide these facilities.
Residents can think of the various amenities in groups: in-unit, community, luxury and others. Some amenities can appear in more than one group depending, for example, on whether the resident considers in-unit laundry a luxury or an absolute deal-breaking necessity. Let's consider some of these groups.
In-unit amenities are those that belong to the resident in their unit. They may not technically be "in" the unit, but they are the resident’s alone. Some of the most popular include: • Balcony or patio. Having a balcony or patio lets residents take advantage of warm sunny days and the nice fall Houston weather.
• Storage space. Storage space is another amenities that can be either a luxury or a necessity. Minimalists don't have as much stuff and probably care less about space. Residents with wardrobe or book collections essential to them may find storage a nonnegotiable amenity. • In-unit laundry. Again, this one depends on personality. Having once enjoyed the pleasure of an in-unit washer and dryer, some people would never live without it again. For others, loading everything up into a half dozen machines to quickly finish an unpleasant chore is the better choice.
• Parking. Simply put: if you own a car, you must put it somewhere. For those who live in cities or suburbs, you must put your car somewhere when you're not using it. Even if the building charges extra for parking, you still have to keep your car somewhere, and your building is more convenient and more accessible.
• Smart amenities. Whether smart thermostats to control the heat and air conditioning or smart locks and smart access control to make residents more secure, smart amenities are at the forefront of sought-after amenities.
Other amenities don't go so much with a resident’s unit as with the building. These communal spaces are known as community or communal amenities; some may be more important to residents than others.
• Gym/fitness center. For many people, a fitness center, maybe even with fitness classes, is a nonnegotiable amenity. Accessing the gym from their apartment, at virtually any time of day, can be very important to the hard-working urban professional.
ards could be a cool activity for a group of friends to tackle together.
• Swimming pool. The pool can be indoors or outdoors and may have an extra fee. Still, its relaxing exercise and easy availability is an essential amenity for many.
• Sustainability/community garden. More and more people are looking for buildings that offer room to grow things. Whether saving the planet or improving their salads, a small garden has become a very attractive plus in an apartment.
• Community grocery store. For those who work, especially those with long or unpredictable hours, having a store in the apartment community can be a real blessing.
Many residents won't want to run out to shop every day but will appreciate the convenience of a store in the building that carries a lot of daily needs and emergency supplies.
And then there are those amenities that make residents feel pampered and make the building they are looking at go beyond excellent to perfect.
• Business center. Even if residents are being called back into the office, having a business center in the building can make those after-hours assignments a little easier. Plus, if they are still entirely WFH, the business center can make many things easier in day-to-day work.
• Hair and nail salon. Having a salon right there, for those whose professional lives make their time short, can be a time-saver.
• In-unit restaurant. Of course, the restaurant isn't in unit (though it may deliver). It's in the apartment community and can make eating something better than a fast-food burger a lot easier.
• Movie theater. With the growth of streaming services, in-building theaters are one of those amenities that are fading in popularity. However, they can be an excellent location for a watch party on special occasions.
Amenities may be nominally free or may have a separately listed cost. Either way, residents pay for them expressly, or they are included in the rent. Thus, when looking at apartment communities, residents think about which ones are worth their presumed cost.
Some buildings don't offer the option to pick and choose. These buildings impose an amenity fee that covers the cost of all amenities provided by that unit. By charging everyone these fees, the building can negotiate from a position of strength with the service providers and are likely to get a better deal. Residents are tasked to look closely at the amenities they are getting for that set fee. On the other hand, many owners will simply include the fee when calculating the per unit rents.
Which Amenities and Why?
A building's amenities can impact its feel and appearance. A building with a fine restaurant, a well-run community store and other luxury amenities will look like a luxury building, increasing the owner's ability to charge premium rents. In contrast, a building with a satellite dish and a clothesline on every balcony gives a different impression.
A building's prospective residents and each apartment resident will subconsciously judge the value of the building daily. As an owner, keeping that judgment and perception positive is critical.
All of these amenities increase the occupancy rate of a building and thereby increase its value. Monthly rentals can continue to grow with contented residents who appreciate the amenities offered in their building.
Ultimately, the decision as to what amenities a resident looks for comes down to lifestyle. Each of us wants and needs different things from our home and environment, and the best building for each person will be the one that meets the most of those needs and the most important of those needs.
When considering given amenities, consider whether each is essential or just useful to the residents you want to attract. If they use a laundry service and don't want to change, an in-unit washer and dryer won't matter that much to them. On the other hand, if they keep strange hours and don't always have time to shop, having a wellstocked, convenient community grocery store where you can grab food or even something already prepared will be a precious amenity.
Homeowners think more of units as homes and want amenities that match home ownership and long-term value. Renters, in contrast, are most often looking for convenience and hotel-like services. Whichever group you fit in, it will have a significant impact on the preferred amenities.
What Can A Store Offer?
On site convenience stores can be small “mom and pop” operations offering a wide but not deep selection of foods with perhaps some prepared foods. Or, as urban living changes, they can be the anchor store of a building featuring a major grocery chain. Both offer convenience and value, depending on what residents are desiring.
The community store is convenient but can also be critical in emergencies. A store that carries ice cream and first aid supplies can make almost any prospective resident happy. Potential residents can see themselves shopping here before they sign the lease. If your building's store is attractive and welcoming, apartment tours will include it and lead potential occupants to see themselves taking advantage of its presence frequently. Existing residents are steps away from all essentials. This can have a major impact on overall resident satisfaction. Over time the ability to cover all their needs just steps from their front door becomes entwined in their daily lives and this can potentially play into the resident's rate of renewal year after year.
An on site store can change how residents shop. It can bring quality and convenience to apartment residents and allow easy shopping for food and beverages. A community store can offer apartment residents a robust amenity, combining service, value and convenience, and, by doing so, enhance the experience of all the other amenities in a building.
Steve McKinley is the CEO and founder of Urban Value Store. An outstanding community store should always be one of your top apartment amenities. Contact McKinley at email@example.com, 832-449-0012 or visit www.urbanvaluestore.com.