Are you ready to upgrade your property, but just aren’t quite sure which upgrades to make? As the real estate market evolves, so do the needs and wants of renters. Today's renters are looking for more than just a roof over their heads – they want a space that meets their specific needs and preferences.

Before making any changes to your property, it can help to explore what renters are looking for most in today's market. 

The Basics: Amenities most renters expect 

Renters have a wide variety of preferences, but the following five items are “nonnegotiables” for most modern renters. In order to attract and retain residents, your property should, at minimum, meet the following expectations:

1. Safety 

Residents want to feel secure and protected in their homes, and that starts with the property itself. Safety basics renters will expect include:

  • Secure, locking doors and windows.

  • Secure property entrances/exits (gated, locked, or monitored).

  • Working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers.

  • Working security lighting in parking areas and around the outside of the property.

By prioritizing safety, landlords and property managers can provide renters with peace of mind and create a more desirable living environment.

2. Move-in ready 

When your renters move into their new apartment, they expect it to be fully move-in ready, with no major repairs or maintenance required. At minimum, renters will expect that the unit is:

  • Professionally cleaned (with carpets/flooring replaced if necessary), recently painted, and in overall good condition.

  • Equipped with reasonably modern, fully working appliances and fixtures (no repairs needed).

  • Free of pests, mold, and other contaminants.

It’s best practice not to show an apartment before it is move-in ready. Showing a clean, ready-to-go apartment creates a positive first impression for renters and fosters good relationships with the people who will become your residents.

3. Appliances/HVAC 

Renters expect their new homes to have basic appliances, such as a stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher, and to have working heating and cooling systems. When turning over units, check to make sure:

  • All appliances are clean, working, and as updated and energy-efficient as possible.

  • Heating and cooling systems (or appliances such as air conditioners) get checked by a professional for efficiency and any needed maintenance.

Tip to attract renters: Although a washer and dryer are not strictly considered “basic appliances,” providing them - or at least providing laundry hookups - can be a big selling point for many renters and give you an edge over other properties.

4. Modernity 

Today's renters are looking for modern and updated living spaces. This can include:

  • Open floor plans

  • Hardwood floors

  • Updated lighting fixtures

  • Modern kitchens and bathrooms

Tip to attract renters: “Smart” technology (for heating/cooling, appliances, security, etc.) isn’t yet considered a “basic,” expected amenity, but it’s a good investment if you’re looking to set your properties up for future success. Overall, investing in modern updates can lead to higher rents and longer renter retention.

5. Storage

Renters expect units to have sufficient storage space, relative to the size of the unit. This includes closets, cabinets, and even outdoor or “hall closet/mud room” storage areas for things like bicycles and sporting equipment. It's important for landlords and property managers to make sure there is ample storage space in each unit, and to highlight this feature when advertising the property.

Upgrades and Add-Ons: Amenities that set your rental property apart

If you’re looking to attract high-quality, long-term residents, you’ll want to put in place some “extra” amenities that really set your property apart and give it an edge over other similar properties. As you’re looking at cost-benefit analysis for upgrades, here are some of the most-desired “upgrade” amenities that modern renters are looking for:

1. Intangible add-ons that renters love:

When searching for a new apartment, many renters focus on tangible amenities like square footage, location, and appliances. However, some of the most valuable features of a rental property can be intangible add-ons that enhance the resident experience, like:

  • A Thriving Community: Community is making the top of the list for more and more renters, especially as people seek to overcome the disconnection of the Covid era. Many renters are looking for properties that seek to actively build community through:

    • Resident events: Properties that host regular resident events tend to have better resident retention rates and higher resident satisfaction levels. These events are designed to create an enjoyable and memorable living experience and foster a sense of belonging among residents, and can include holiday parties, barbecues, movie nights, fitness classes, or even a weekly coffee hour. 

    • Community-focused amenities: Playgrounds, on-site fitness centers, swimming pools, coworking spaces, and game rooms are just a few examples of popular community-focused amenities that enhance the resident experience.

    • Resident community newsletter or social media feed: A regular newsletter or weekly/biweekly social media posts highlighting resident events, important community updates and upgrades, or even resident stories or photos that residents have hashtagged with your community name can go a long way toward building an active feeling of community.

By creating opportunities for residents to socialize and get to know one another, landlords and property managers can build the sense of community that renters want - and happy residents are likely to recommend their living community to their friends and family.

  • Available Services: Convenient access to important (or specialized) services is a big selling point for many renters. Popular services include:

    • Excellent high-speed internet: As more and more people choose to work from home, reliable, high-speed, high-bandwidth internet is rapidly moving from a “nice to have” to an absolute essential.

    • Digital communication: Modern renters look for the convenience of communication options provided by their living community. This can take the form of a resident app, a readily-available online service form for maintenance requests, or even a texting service that’s available to answer questions or concerns.

    • Laundry: MRI’s Voice of the Resident Report found that, of those surveyed, a staggering 50% of renters rated in-unit laundry (or included laundry service) as their most desired service/amenity - above a pool, gym, or even high-speed internet!

    • Trusted vendor connections: Think beyond maintenance vendors to other types of vendors who would benefit your residents. Seek out strategic vendor partnerships that allow your residents to access services they care about at a reduced cost. Options might include:

      • Personal fitness coaches (at your property’s gym, if possible)

      • Interior designers (offer a move-in special!)

      • Photographers (for birthdays, family photos, graduation, etc.)

      • Dog walkers, groomers, or pet-sitters (for pet friendly properties)

      • Academic tutors (for properties with families or students)

      • Personal chef or meal prep services

Lifestyle and convenience services are popular amenities, but you can tailor this list to whatever most appeals to your residents. Just having a “trusted vendors” list is attractive to renters who value time-saving convenience.

2. Popular tangible amenities that attract renters

The right amenities are an increasingly important selling point for high-end renters, and although the breakdown of what’s most popular varies slightly in different areas, a shortlist of the most popular rental amenities could look like:

  • Sustainable living upgrades: Sustainable living ranks high on the list of desired amenities, with 40% of residents now stating that they would not live in a property without “green” practices

  • “Smart” technology upgrades: Particularly important to GenZ and Millenial renters, technology-enabled apartments are in demand. Smart thermostats, lighting, security, and even window treatments are all simple upgrades that dramatically raise the perceived value of a living space.

  • A swimming pool: Pools are a popular amenity because they fall into three categories: family, fitness, and community.

  • A well-equipped gym: A clean, well-equipped on-site fitness center saves your residents time and money, and encourages healthy living. If a gym is a prohibitively expensive upgrade, consider inviting an instructor to teach weekly yoga or fitness classes in your community room or lounge!

  • Outdoor space: Especially in larger cities, where outdoor space is at a premium, having even small outdoor spaces that are well-designed and easily accessible is a great selling point - and an almost essential amenity for pet-friendly properties.

  • Private garage: Although this one is cost- or space-prohibitive for many properties, private parking is consistently listed as a top desired amenity. A secure, well-lit private parking area that is easily accessible from your building is an upgrade worth considering from a renter attraction/retention standpoint.

  • Additional storage (especially for outdoor equipment): Apartment living continues to be popular for millennials, comparatively few of whom are purchasing homes, but longer-term apartment living also means struggling to find enough storage for a lifetime of accumulated possessions. “Outdoor gear” storage space for bikes, sports equipment, etc. is a desirable amenity for this reason.

3. Financial amenities

There are many non-traditional renters, such as individuals from other countries that are moving to the United States, that will pay a premium for housing. The problem is that they might not have a U.S. credit history if they’ve been living abroad. In other cases, students, freelancers, gig workers, recent graduates, thin-credit applicants, or self-employed individuals may not be able to meet your application requirements.

Rent Coverage from TheGuarantors serves as a lease guarantee, allowing you to cater to these renters without carrying the financial risk of tenant default. TheGuarantors acts as the renter’s guarantor, so in the event that a resident stops paying rent, all you have to do is file a claim with us. Then you’ll be able to recover the lost income.

The Guarantors also has a Deposit Coverage product, which acts as a security deposit replacement that allows renters to pay a small fee in lieu of a traditional deposit. This allows you to market your property as a deposit-free community while ensuring the protection you want and need from damages.

Create a Customized Program for Your Portfolio

Why improve amenities for your renters? 

Offering your residents top-notch amenities benefits them, and you. Properties that offer a robust catalog of amenities often experience:

1. Increased property value

The value of your property is directly related to both vacancy rates, and the amount you can charge for each unit. By offering popular, in-demand amenities, you can increase the demand for your property and justify a higher rental price. Renters are typically willing to pay more for an apartment that has the amenities they want, because they expect those amenities to save them both time and money, and because they see it as a worthwhile investment in their quality of life.

2. Increased renter retention

When your residents have access to desirable amenities, they are less likely to move elsewhere, because they don't want to give up the convenience of having those amenities at their fingertips, and the sense of community that your property offers. By prioritizing the amenities that renters want, landlords and property managers can increase retention and save the time and expense of searching for new renters. 

3. Higher volume of new rental applications

Your NOI is tied to your ability to keep your properties full. In addition to retaining current residents, popular amenities can also attract new renters to your property. In a competitive market, landlords and property managers who offer in-demand amenities are more likely to stand out from the crowd and attract new renters who are looking for those features. This can help you fill vacancies quickly and keep your properties fully occupied.

As the real estate market changes, landlords and property managers need to stay up-to-date on what renters are looking for. By understanding the demands of today's renters, you can attract and retain renters who value your property and are more likely to renew their lease. From community to services to high-end amenities, today's renters want more than just a place to live – they want a space that meets their unique needs and preferences.